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Israel Prepares for Biological Terrorist Attack


Israel's defense and health ministries will stage a two-day exercise dubbed `Orange Flame 6" in the north next Wednesday and simulate an "unconventional terrorist" attack. The drill will simulate a biological outbreak of a contagious disease, attacking and infecting the cities of the north, primarily Afula, Tiberias and the Nazareth area in the Galilee.

The Defense Ministry intends to hold additional drills in the field of unconventional terrorism in the coming year. The exercise will test and drill operations of the Defense, Foreign, Environment and Health ministries and the Home Front Command, local governments, police and rescue services, hospitals and the Water Authority.

Local authorities will set up Mass-Prophylaxis Treatment Centers, which will simulate the provision of preventive treatment to citizens who are suspected of exposure to the outbreak. Each center will be drilled on their capacity to treat approximately 5,000 patients per day.

"It is important that that the citizens of Israel know that there are people in the Defense Establishment, as well as the other relevant authorities, whose permanent job is to prepare the State of Israel to handle these types of threats," said Brig. Gen. (res.), Ze'ev Snir, who is Assistant Minister of Defense for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense.

Hizbullah: We Have 'Vanquished' CIA, Mossad


Syrian and Iranian-backed Hizbullah boasted Wednesday it had vanquished the CIA and Mossad. "Our security... has exposed several American and Israeli plots on Lebanon," Hizbullah' Hassan Fadlallah told reporters. "We call on the Lebanese government to take immediate action... and raise the issue with the United Nations and embassies, so that the whole world is aware of what the US embassy in Lebanon is doing."

Fadlallah claimed Hizbullah had succeeded in uncovering Central Intelligence Agency operatives that had infiltrated Hizbullah. "Lebanese intelligence vanquished US and Israeli intelligence in what is now known as the intelligence war," Fadlallah said.

His comments came days after reports emerged that Hizbullah had uncovered several operatives within the movement working for the CIA. In the first acknowledgement of infiltration since the Shiite group's founding in the 1980s, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah in June said members of his group had confessed to being CIA agents.

Nasrallah accused his arch foe Israel of turning to the US spy agency after failing to infiltrate his party – slamming the American embassy in Beirut as a "den of spies." The US embassy in Beirut dismissed the accusations as "empty".

Ironically, Fadlallah's claims came the morning after a Hizbullah munitions warehouse said to be housing a downed IDF drone was destroyed by a large explosion in what the terror group has called an act of sabotage.

Reports in the media following the explosion have speculated the warehouse – located near the port city of Tyre – was destroyed by the CIA, Mossad or both. Details, however, remain unclear as Hizbullah will not let UNIFIL or Lebanese security officials near the site.

Lebanon and Israel technically remain in a state of war and convicted spies face life imprisonment or the death sentence if found guilty of contributing to Lebanese loss of life. Lebanon has protested to the United Nations over the alleged spy networks.

IDF to 'Kidnap' Soldiers Once a Month


One month after abducted soldier Gilad Shalit was released and amid fears that terrorists are planning further kidnappings, the IDF is planning to increase the frequency of its exercises and stage the kidnapping of a soldier once a month.

According to a report on the IDF website, the monthly "kidnapping exercises" will begin next month, and the military is also considering distributing tear gas to male soldiers so they can resist a kidnapping attempt. Presently, only female soldiers are given tear gas.

The decision was made in a recent special session chaired by the Deputy Chief of Staff. It was made in light of increased warnings about terrorists' intentions to kidnap soldiers and due to explicit threats to that effect by terrorist organizations. "There are quite a few warnings about it, and after the release of Gilad Shalit, the various terrorist organizations announced that they will increase their attempts to kidnap a soldier," Brig. Gen. Meir Ohana, Commander of the Military Police Corps, told the IDF website.

In addition, the report said, the IDF is also planning to increase the punishment for soldiers caught hitchhiking, which is prohibited.

Last week, the Israeli army held a wide-scale exercise which included a mock report of kidnapping at an army checkpoint in the Jordan Valley. The "victim" was kidnapped and taken to Shechem, in northern Samaria.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas joined Hamas last month in stating that kidnapping and holding Shalit as hostage for more than five years was "successful" because it brought about the release of the first batch of 1,027 terrorists to be freed by Israel. Nearly 500 were released in the first stage of the agreement, and the others are to be set freed next month.

Jews Survived Thanks to Circumcision


The history of the world is filled with empires that controlled the world, but the Jewish people were never one of those. Jews have always been a minority, and for long periods of time – a persecuted minority. Seemingly, in light of the wars, exiles and destruction, the Jewish people should have disappeared by now – but they haven't. How did Jews survive?

Anthropologist Melvin Konner of Emory University, Atlanta, attributes the Jewish people's survival to their devotion to some of the mitzvot of the Torah, which he says were specifically suited to guarantee the continued existence of the children of Abraham.

According to Konner, circumcision and practicing family purity (Niddah) are mitzvot which allowed and encouraged the birth of a greater number of offspring, contributing to the people's continued existence, adding that the model of prolific mothers matches Darwin's Natural Selection theory, according to which many offspring improve the chances of survival. In other words, "be fruitful and multiply" is a winning formula.

Konner presented his theory last week at the conference on "Judaism in Evolutionary Perspective" at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. "The existence of the Jewish people throughout history, in light of the exiles and persecution, is a real challenge," said Konner. "Religious people see this as divine intervention.

"There is no doubt that their commitment to religious texts helped, but if we look at certain Jewish traditions, we can definitely examine their influence on the reproductive system."

When he addresses the circumcision mitzvah, Konner doesn't conceal the negative aspect. Following the brit, he says, babies may suffer from an infection or die as a result of bleeding. Not to mention the fact that the Jews' enemies, including the Nazis, used circumcision to identify the Jews.

Nonetheless, there is scientific evidence today that male circumcision can prevent infections in the sexual organ – and this was likely even more important in ancient times when hygiene was poor. In the past, such infections could have led to infertility problems among women – and so it was important for a man not to infect his partner.

Judaism has also given women a role in guaranteeing the nation's survival – through the Niddah mitzvah, which forbids sexual intercourse during menstruation. "Niddah has a negative aspect too," Konner said. "Religious groups used Niddah to keep women away from the public arena and restrict them in different ways."

But Konner mentions the good sides as well. This mitzvah, he says, has boosted natural increase, which is the essence of evolution according to Darwin. Waiting seven days from the last day of menstruation brings you two to four days before ovulation. As sperm can survive in the uterus several days, the timing determined by Torah is the ideal time to conceive.

Moreover, he mentions the fact that this mitzvah has another dimension, with the anticipation creating a sort of "monthly honeymoon" for many couples and increasing the chance to conceive.

Although these are two ancient mitzvot, Konner still finds them relevant. "It has recently been proved that circumcision can reduce the chance of contracting AIDS in east Africa by 60%."Following these findings, the American Academy of Pediatrics was close to making a decision recommending the circumcision of all males in the United States. It was eventually decided that in the modern Western world the advantages are not big enough, and the decision was left to the parents. "In any event, there is no medical argument on the advantages of circumcision.

"As for Niddah, which is observed by many Orthodox and Conservative Jews as part of the family purity, it can be seen as an event with many advantages, even romantic ones. This reality places the man and woman as equal by experiencing the monthly period together, as a couple."

And yet, while Niddah and circumcision were "made kosher" in the modern era, another cultural custom, which also helped to boost the nation, remained behind: polygamy. "Judaism is not monogamous in nature," said Konner. "In the Bible era, from Abraham onward, we see how men took full advantage of the authority to marry more than one woman. Sometimes we see behavior matching Darwin's sexual selection concept.

"There are places where Jewish warriors are allowed and even encouraged to take women, especially virgins, as loot. And of course we have the 1,000 women and mistresses of King Solomon. It may seem an exaggerated number, but it wasn't an unusual phenomenon among powerful rulers in Asia and Africa throughout most of history. In King's Solomon's case, he wasn't criticized for the number of women, but for the fact that he pursued foreign women."

While Niddah and circumcision are perceived by Konner as still relevant, polygamy isn't. "As the father of three girls, I'm glad this is behind us," he said. "We must not forget the 999 men who didn't have any women because of Solomon's harem."

Konner was born into an Orthodox family, but according to Israeli terms he is a former religious today. And yet, he view Torah and mitzvot as an essential asset for Jewish existence.

"I don't think we would have survived as a people without the Torah," he says. "Even though every generation has people like me, who draw away from observing the Torah's mitzvot, it remains the core of the Jewish people. Like most Israelis, I don't approve of religious extremism either and view it as a potential threat, but like Ben-Gurion realized – the Jewish people need religious people.

"In Israel today you can be completely secular without affecting your Jewish identity. In the Diaspora there is no such thing. In recent generations, secular Judaism has been a way out of Judaism. But three things have allowed the existence of the Jewish people in the past, and in the future: The people, Torah and God."

Ethiopian Jews Settle Into Life in Israel

By Scott Bobb (VOA-Ashkelon)

Israel is marking the 20th anniversary of a massive airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The arrival and integration of tens of thousands of Ethiopians into Israeli society have presented major challenges and brought many lessons.

Early morning at the Beit Canada Absorption Center in Ashkelon, one of 16 in the country that are new arrivals' first home, recent immigrants are studying Hebrew. They are called Falasha Mura, Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity but who have chosen to return to Judaism. They have been granted the same right of return to Israel that Jewish law gives all Jews.

More than 80,000 Ethiopian Jews have immigrated to Israel in the past three decades - 15,000 of them in a three-day airlift 20 years ago called Operation Solomon. They now total 120,000.

Gadi Yamharan was one of them. He currently works with the privately funded Jewish Agency that manages the complicated process of immigration and integration. "I take them to the Ministry of Interior, to the banks, to the Ministry of Absorption. I accompany them through all the procedures," said Yamharan.

The young adults learn more quickly than their elders. "It was very hard [in Ethiopia], but in Israel it's easy. I am happy here," said one young woman who immigrated. The children go to public schools in Ashkelon during the day. Afterwards they come here for activities, like skills development and sports.

The director of the program, Leah Golan, said the center aims to provide a comfort zone. "It's really a holistic approach, very culturally sensitive, in order to make sure that after two years in the absorption center, moving and becoming part of the Israeli society will be as smooth as possible. And it's never smooth. It's always very, very challenging."

Yamharan said many immigrants are coming from rural areas in a developing country to the urbanized life of a developed state. "When they come they find it difficult, whether the language or the culture, even the weather, everything is hard for them," he observed.

Although there are many success stories in the Ethiopian community, rates of unemployment and poverty remain higher that in the general society. Golan, whose parents emigrated from Romania, said there also is discrimination, though that is changing.

"Today I think there is a much more healthy attitude towards people coming from different backgrounds, first of all respecting the differences, and then understanding that each of the colors in the mosaic are entitled to get their own color, but at the same [time] create one society," said Golan.

Israeli officials plan to wind down this program in a few years after the remaining Ethiopian Jews have arrived. Although great efforts are being made to help them adjust, for some immigrants it may take generations to really feel at home.

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