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One Million Plus Tourists Since January


More than a million tourists came to Israel in the first quarter of this year, despite the tension generated in the region by the "Arab Spring."

According to the Tourism Ministry, a total of 1,040,000 visitors arrived in Israel from January to March, including day visitors and cruise passengers – 2% fewer than in the same period last year.

Demjanjuk Free Pending Appeal

By and Reuters

A court in Munich ordered John Demjanjuk freed from custody pending a decision on appeal of his conviction Thursday in the murder of 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor death camp during the Holocaust.

The judges said the 91-year-old native of the Ukraine had nowhere to which to flee. Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison, although the court may decide to credit his time already served while being held in custody during the trial.

"This could be the beginning of a new last wave of many [such] proceedings," commented Cornelius Nestler, attorney for the plaintiff families of victims who died at Sobibor, on Wednesday.

The Munich court found the 91-year-old guilty of being an accessory to mass murder as a guard at Sobibor camp in Poland during World War Two. However later Thursday, the court decided to release Demjanjuk from jail, pending an appeal, because of his advanced age.

"The accused is to be released," Judge Ralph Alt told the Munich court on Thursday after handing down a guilty verdict and sentencing the Ukraine-born Demjanjuk to five years in jail.

Demjanjuk had been exonerated in a separate Holocaust trial two decades ago in Israel, where he was initially sentenced to death for being the notorious "Ivan the Terrible" camp guard at Treblinka in Poland. The ruling was overturned by Israel's Supreme Court after new evidence exonerated him.

Holocaust survivors welcomed the guilty verdict, as did the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center, where Rabbi Marvin Hier said: "John Demjanjuk's Nazi past finally caught up with him."

"Humanity owed this to the memory of the tortured and the dead," Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants said, adding his "cynical manipulation of the legal system has at last been ended".

Ukraine-born Demjanjuk, who was once top of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals, said he was drafted into the Soviet army in 1941 then taken prisoner of war by the Germans.

Demjanjuk attended the 18-month court proceedings in Munich - birthplace of Adolf Hitler's Nazi movement -- in a wheelchair and sometimes lying down, with his family trying to argue that he was too frail to stand trial.

His son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said in an e-mail ahead of the verdict that his father was a victim of the Nazis and of post-war Germany. "While those who refuse to accept that reality may take satisfaction from this event, nothing the Munich court can do will atone for the suffering Germany has perpetrated upon him to this day," he said.

Prosecutors had faced several hurdles in proving Demjanjuk's guilt, with no surviving witnesses to his crimes and heavy reliance on wartime documents, namely a Nazi ID card that defense attorneys said was a fake made by the Soviets.

Guards at Nazi death camps like Sobibor were essential to the mass killing of Jews because extermination was the focus of such camps, prosecutors said. Some 250,000 Jews were killed at Sobibor, according to the Wiesenthal Center.

Defense attorney Ulrich Busch told the Munich court on Wednesday that even if Demjanjuk did become a prison guard, he did so only because as a prisoner of war he would have either been shot by the Nazis or died of starvation.

Demjanjuk immigrated to the United States in the early 1950s and became a naturalized citizen in 1958, working as an engine mechanic in Ohio.

Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, issued a statement shortly after the verdict was announced. "While no trial can bring back those who were murdered, holding those responsible to justice has an important moral and educational role in society," Shalev said.

"The conviction today of Demjanjuk underscores the fact that even though the policies of the "Final Solution" – the systematic murder of six million European Jews – were set and carried out by the German Nazi regime, the murder could not have taken place without the participation of myriads of Europeans on many levels. Their role was also criminal."

Israeli Attorney Yoram Sheftel responded on Thursday to the conviction and sentence of Demjanjuk in Munich.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew website, Sheftel said that the trial was distorted and unreal. "There was a shameful farce here," he said. "Certainly the German court did not believe its own ruling."

Sheftel had served as Demjanjuk's attorney when he was put on trial in Israel in the late 1980s, to face charges that he was the brutal Nazi-era Treblinka camp guard known as "Ivan the Terrible."

Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to death in 1988, but appealed the decision and the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the death sentence in 1993, saying that new evidence from the collapsed Soviet Union introduced doubt that Demjanjuk was indeed Ivan the Terrible.

Sheftel said that he is convinced that the Israeli Supreme Court's ruling regarding Demjanjuk was the true verdict he deserved. "Nothing has changed since then," he said. "Even during the trial in Germany, there was not one person who testified that Demjanjuk was Ivan from Sobibor, by virtue that he was seen there, and as such the conviction is a farce."

'Son of Hamas' Denounced as a Phony


Walid Shoebat, a former Muslim terrorist who now supports Israel, has accused former Shin Bet agent Mosab Hasan Yousef, author of "Son of Hamas," of duping his Western audience. Yousef denies the accusations.

Shoebat and Yousef are both former Muslims who converted to Christianity. Yousef became a celebrity when he wrote his book, which detailed how he assisted Israeli agents against Hamas. As the son of a high-ranking Hamas official, he had access to real-time information that helped the Shin Bet nab numerous wanted terrorists and saved many Israeli lives.

However, Shoebat - a noted author and commentator on the Middle East - claims in an article on his website that Yousef "has since revealed himself to be more double agent than turncoat."

Mosab did not convert to what the West would recognize as Christianity, but to a fiery, Palestinian brand of the faith that is vehemently anti-Israel," he wrote.

Shoebat uses as evidence two videotapes of interviews Mosab granted to Arabic television channels. Speaking on Al-Arabiya, Mosab said: "During my tours in universities and even churches, [I found] the real support for Israel stems from the church in the West. … We need to understand the difference between "revenge" and "resistance" and once the Palestinians do, we will have our victory against Israel. Israel is the problem and as an occupation it needs to end. … There are many ways to do this besides the cowardly explosive operations."

He adds that he "suffered under all the problems of murder and the criminal operations that were carried out by the Israeli occupation against my people, my family, myself, and against humanity."

Shoebat warned: "Mosab is now touring churches to end Israel's lifeline. Many Jews and Christians in the West are unable to determine friend from foe in the Mideast; they are not able to read what is said in Arabic. They must seek translations, and must be aware of double agents like Mosab."

Why Koreans Study Talmud


Almost every house in South Korea has a translated Talmud. Moreover, the South Koreans have made the collection of ancient rabbinic writings on Jewish civil and religious law part of their school curriculum's compulsory literature.

But unlike Israel, even Korean mothers study it and read from it to their young children. Yes, in a country of almost 49 million people who believe in Buddhism and Christianity, there are more people who read the Talmud – or at least have a copy of it at home – than in the Jewish state. Much more.

"We were very curious about the Jews' outstanding academic achievements," explained South Korean Ambassador to Israel Young Sam Ma, who was a guest on Channel 1's "Culture Today" show. "The Jews have a high percentage of Nobel Prize laureates in all fields: In literature, science and economics. It's an amazing achievement.

"We tried to understand the secret of the Jewish people. How do they – more than other nations – manage to reach such impressive achievements? How is it that Jews are such geniuses? The conclusion we reaches is that one of your secrets is studying Talmud.

"Jews read the Talmud from an early age, and we believe it helps them develop great abilities. This understanding led us to the conclusion that we should also teach children Talmud. We believe that if we teach our children Talmud we could also be geniuses. And that's what stands behind the decision to integrate the Talmud into the school system in South Korea."

Young said he himself has been reading the Talmud since a very early age. "It's considered very significant studying," he stresses. "The result is that there are more Koreans who have a copy of the Talmud at home than Jews in Israel. I, for example, have two sets of Talmud – one of them was bought by my wife and the other I received as a gift from my mother-in-law."

The Koreans are fond of the Talmud not just because they believe it advances the genius quality, but because they have found values close to their heart in it. "The Jewish tradition emphasizes family values," explained the South Korean ambassador. "You can also see it today, in your custom to convene every Friday for a family meal.

"In my country the family is very important too. The way older people are treated, the respect and appreciation Judaism has for the elderly, are parallel to the high appreciation the elderly get in my country."

"Another significant thing is the attitude towards education. In the Jewish tradition there is a duty to teach the children, and a lot of attention is devoted to it. Among Korean parents, the children's education is the top priority as well.

"I think that this similarity led to the fact that today you can see in the United States Korean immigrants following in the Jews' footsteps and succeeding in the same areas the Jews succeed in."

The love of Talmud was followed by appreciation in additional fields, including culture. "The Jews like culture and art. I live in Rishpon, which is a small Moshav, and an art and music gallery opened there last week," the ambassador said.

"I was impressed by the fact that even a small moshav has a home for culture. We don't have the options you have, but we learn from you in this area too and invest as much as we can in order to enjoy these fields like you."

And if you thought this is where the connection ends, think again: The Jewish biography, which looks pretty unique to us, reminds the Koreans of their own.

"I find many similarities between us – the Jews and the State of Israel," the ambassador says. "Both you and we have a long history with great difficulties. Israel and South Korean became received their independence in the same year, 1948, so we are the same age, 63. We, like you, have problems with hostile neighbors. We, like you, hardly have any natural resources and we must rely mainly on our human capital.

"In its 63 years of existence Israel has greatly developed. It created miracles in its economy, and so did we. The people in Israel are similar to the South Koreans in their courtesy as well as in the impatience they show, sometimes.

"When people complain about the way you drive, I say that I find it very convenient driving here because you act on the road like we do. You also have a warm heart, like the Koreans, and therefore I think Israelis and Koreans can befriend each other easily, because we are emotionally similar.

"I found out that when an Israeli befriends you, he helps you without expecting anything in return. This is why I cherish my friendship with Israelis. We learn from you all the time."

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