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Plans to Impose TV Tax on Computer Owners


The Finance Ministry is being accused of secretly inserting a clause into the budget requiring people who do not own a television to pay the television tax or "Agara." The clause notes that many people can now view television shows via their computer. MK Danny Danon slammed the clause saying it was like taxing oven owners for bread.

Lieberman Orders 'Day After' Plans for Tackling Nuclear Iran

By Reuters

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has commissioned a report on how to prepare for a nuclear-armed Iran as doubt mounts about the efficacy of preventive action, an Israeli source said on Monday.

Publicly, Israel has pledged to deny the Iranians the means to make a bomb but its previous, centrist government also discreetly drew up "day after" contingency plans should Tehran's uranium enrichment pass the military threshold.

At the time, rightist opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu called for Israel to consider preemptive strikes against its arch-foe's nuclear sites. Now prime minister, Netanyahu has reined in such rhetoric while not ruling out the use of force.

In a sign the government is examining a full range of options, Lieberman, the most hawkish member of Netanyahu's coalition, has ordered ministry strategists to draft a paper on "what to do if we wake up and discover the Iranians have a nuclear weapon." said the senior Israeli political source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Foreign Ministry planners are also preparing a report on possible responses should the Palestinians unilaterally declare a state taking in all of the West Bank, where continued Israeli settlement has bogged down U.S.-sponsored peace efforts.

Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal. Its aircraft bombed Iraq's atomic reactor in 1981 and launched a similar sortie against Syria in 2007. But many independent experts believe Israeli forces could not take on Iran alone. The Iranians have dug in, dispersed and prepared to defend many of their nuclear facilities.

Even were its warplanes to manage a successful sneak attack, Israel would almost certainly suffer retaliatory Iranian missile salvoes worse than the short-range rocket attacks of Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists in the 2006 and 2009 border wars.

Netanyahu's office declined comment on the Lieberman initiative. A senior Israeli official said: "The government's position is that all attempts have to be made to prevent Iran from going nuclear."

Israel's government has voiced cautious confidence in sanctions. But it also believes Tehran could have a nuclear warhead as soon as 2012-2014, an assessment shared by some in the West.

Israeli defense officials have placed a priority on improving the national missile shield and bolstering a network of civilian bomb shelters - a posture that may herald resilience in the face of an eventual nuclear-armed Iran or a bracing for reprisals should Israel strike Iran first.

Palestinians Reject Israel's Offer on Settlement Freeze

By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has offered to extend a building freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank if the Palestinians agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Israeli leader's offer Monday came as talks remained stalled between Israel and the Palestinians on the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The Palestinians last week said they would not return to negotiations after Israel refused to extend a partial freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank that expired September 26.

Speaking to Israel's parliament, the Knesset, Netanyahu said that if the Palestinian leadership says unequivocally that it recognizes Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, he would ask his government to extend the building freeze.

He said he expects the Palestinians to take trust-building steps and convince the majority of Israelis who he said have, in the past 10 years, lost trust in the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians immediately dismissed Netanyahu's offer. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told VOA, Netanyahu's demands are unacceptable. "I don't see the relevance between his need to stop settlement activities in compliance with international law as an occupying power and his demand for us to recognize his country and its religious character. We have recognized the State of Israel as it exists and we cannot go further than that. But the fact that he needs to have a settlement freeze in order to resume the negotiations is an obligation for him."

In the past, the Palestinians have refused to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state out of concern that would bring discrimination against Arabs who live inside Israel and give up the rights of Palestinian refugees who were displaced upon the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

The aim of the talks - for the Palestinians - is to establish a Palestinian state. The Palestinians say the Israeli settlements encroach on land that would be part of that future state.

Many Israelis express concerns that a new Palestinian state could be a threat to Israel. They point to what happened in the Gaza Strip after Israel's 2005 pullout, when the terrorist Islamist group Hamas - whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state - seized power.

Hamas Minister: We'll Occupy Haifa, Akko

By Reuters

As Israel and the Palestinians attempt to renew direct peace talks launched last week, Hamas continues its declarations of war: The Hamas government's interior minister in Gaza, Fathi Hamad, said Monday that the Palestinians "will reoccupy Haifa and Akko."

Speaking during a visit to a university in the town of Khan Younis, Hamad addressed the Israeli operation in Gaza, saying that "the Zionist enemy is still hurting the defeat in the war and preparing for another round in an attempt to destroy the Palestinian resistance."

Hamad mentioned the threats to sue Israeli officials worldwide. "The commanders are afraid to travel to many countries. We are coming to occupy Haifa and Akko. We'll have armies from all around the world, and the convoys arriving in Gaza are carrying a message to our people, saying that we must stick to the path of jihad. The enemy is trying to impose a siege on us, but they are the ones under a siege and behind fences."

The Hamas interior minister turned to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying, "No matter how many concessions you make, it won't satisfy the Israelis and Americans."

Singing and Guitars at Shlomo Carlebach's Gravesite

By & Don Canaan

The 16th yahrzeit marking the death of Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach was marked on Sunday. About 200 friends and students of came to his grave on Har HaMenuchot in Jerusalem. Many of them brought musical instruments to the grave and everyone joined together and sang his songs. The Psalms that are traditionally read during a yahrzeit were read out while Carlebach's melodies, both the better known ones as well as lesser known ones, were chanted.

Israel News Faxx editor Don Canaan interviewed Carlebach when he made a 1990 Cincinnati appearance at a local synagogue. Guitar-strumming Carlebach, who has been called "the pre-eminent Jewish singer of our time," performed to a community audience including Soviet Jews and nursing home residents.

His interpretations of popular and liturgical music raised the audience's fervor so that many people were snaking their way and dancing through the aisles and on the bimah of Ohav Shalom's sanctuary. Singing in English, Hebrew and Yiddish, he was accompanied by the David Lieberman Ensemble.

The 61-year-old Carlebach was born in Germany and raised in Vienna and New York City. In April 1982, he performed for residents of Yamit, including former Adath Israel Congregation Cantor Chaim Feifel and his wife, Sara, just two days before the Israeli Sinai city was returned to Egyptian administration.

In 1974, the Feifels led a group of Americans (including this editor) who helped found the Jewish, palm-tree lined, outpost on the Mediterranean seashore. Carlebach's musical history goes back to the 1960s when he was rabbi of the House of Love and Prayer in San Francisco. Because of this association, during the interim 25-plus years, he retained the reputation as being a "hippie" rabbi.

In a message expressly aimed at Cincinnatians, Carlebach said, "Wasting time talking about anti-Semitism is an absolute waste...Right now, we Jews can make the world our friends. It's up to us. Every Jew has to begin shining. If all of us Jews would be the way that God wants us to be--so spiritual, so lofty and so full of love, full of joy--the world will look at us with different eyes...We have something the world needs the most. We have the strength not to despair...If there's any hope in the world, it comes from us Jews. We taught the world not to give up."

MK Kara: Druze are Descended from Jews


For centuries, practitioners of the Druze religion took care not to reveal any information about the nature of their beliefs, rituals, and traditions. Under penalty of communal ostracism, or worse, members of Druze communities have refrained from telling any outsider more than basic details about their religion.

But now, the secret is out. Druze MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) says members of the Druze communities believe in many of the same things that Jews do. And that's not surprising, he adds, since the Druze are actually descended from the Jewish people - and he says he can bring genetic evidence to prove it.

According to Kara, who is politically allied with the Jewish nationalist camp, there are many aspects of Druze beliefs that mesh with Judaism: "All our prophets are Jewish ones – Moses, Judah, Jethro, and Zevulun, the son of Jacob." In fact, he says, the Druze are likely one of the lost tribes of the Jewish people – probably Zevulun, considering his special status among them.

According to Kara, there are no vestigial Jewish practices among the Druze – as there are, surprisingly, among some Arabs in the Land of Israel – but one symbol has stuck with the Druze throughout the centuries. "Only among Druze do you find a red Star of David, in homes, cemeteries, and places of worship," Kara says. "This is one sign that has been open and visible for centuries, unlike most of the other ones, yet few have noticed."

If the Druze dropped most, if not all, Jewish ritual, it's because they feared the sword of Islam. "Unlike Jews and Christians, who have the status of "people of the Book" among Muslims, and are therefore are given some basic rights, Druze are simply heretics to Islam, and such heretics must be either converted or eliminated," Kara explains.

In fact, Druze were massacred by Muslims on several occasions, and "it would have been much worse if they had identified themselves as Jews." As a result, the Druze initially converted to Christianity and subsequently took on a Muslim identity – but through it all, they never forgot their Jewish identity.

Those roots explain, at least in part, the fierce loyalty the Druze in Israel have to the state. "However, Druze here are too fearful to loudly proclaim their sympathies with Israel, or to convert to Judaism, although some do – because of the fear of what might happen to their brethren in Syria and Lebanon," Kara said. Druze soldiers have given their lives for Israel and have risen high in IDF ranks. However, Druze tradition is to be loyal to whatever country rules the area they live in, so that Druze in Syria are loyal to Syria.

And then there is the genetic study, which shows that Druze display genetic attributes quite similar to those of Jews "A major genetic test from last year, the first extensive test done of the Druze, proves my contention clearly," says Kara.

Not all experts are convinced – at least not yet. Tsvi MiSinai, an Israeli author who has conducted extensive investigations into the cultural and genetic background of the Arabs living west of the Jordan River, and who has concluded that the vast majority of them are descended from the Jewish nation, believes that more study is necessary.

"According to the study, the genetic cluster of Druze coincides closely with those of the Samaritans, and is very close to the genetic clusters of Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Jews from the Caucasus," says MiSinai, author of an ambitious study on "Jewish nationhood" called "Brother Shall Not Lift Sword Against Brother."

While the evidence so far is persuasive, MiSinai wants to see more. "We know from history that there were definitely Jewish villages that became part of the Druze community, mostly to avoid being forced to convert to Islam, such as the residents of the villages of Abu Snein and Yarcha. If the genetic samples were taken from there, it doesn't say much about the rest of the Druze. I would want to see more of an in-depth study," MiSinai says.

Kara says that his evidence stands on its own merits. "For thousands of years the Druze suffered," he said, "so it's understandable that they would be a little hesitant to come forward after only 60 years of Israel's existence. But when you check our beliefs – and our veneration of the great Jewish prophets – the matter should become clear."

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