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Olympic Committee Defends 'Nazi Salute' of German Official

By Reuters

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) defended a German official who has been accused of performing the 'Nazi salute' during the opening ceremony of the London Games.

Honorary IOC member Walther Troger was filmed extending his left arm back and forth repeatedly as the German team marched around London's Olympic stadium on July 27, The Telegraph reported.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams vehemently denied allegations that Troger's hand motion was a Nazi salute. "I can't think of anyone who is less anti-Semitic than him," he said adding that he is "devastated that it was interpreted in this way."

According to The Telegraph, in 1972, Troger, who was at that time serving as mayor of the Olympic Village during the Munich Games, offered to exchange himself for Israeli hostages during the Black September terrorist attack. In 2004 he reportedly complained to the IOC about Germans wearing T-shirts reading: "Blitzkrieg - it's only a game."

"It's infamous, disgusting and unacceptable to create any kind of relation to Nazis. He's been standing all his life for tolerance, understanding and fair play," said Christian Kalue, a spokesman for the German Olympic Sports Federation.

German commentators on Twitter have also urged the public not to misinterpret Troger's actions, noting that the Nazis saluted with their right hand while Troger used his left hand.


Romney Raises $1 Million at Jerusalem Fundraiser

By VOA News & IsraelNationalNews.com

U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has closed his trip to Israel by telling donors about the spiritual connection he felt in Jerusalem.

The likely Republican Party nominee spoke to a group of about 40 people Monday at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. The breakfast event was expected to bring in more than $1 million for his campaign to defeat President Barack Obama in the November election. Monday's fundraiser included billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and other major Republican donors.

"I come to this place, therefore, with a sense of profound humility, as I look around here at great people who've accomplished a great thing, and also a sense of spiritual connection, acknowledging the hand of providence in establishing this place and making it a holy city," Romney said.

His comments came a day after he declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. The remarks angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Congress passed a law nearly 15 years go that the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the legislation includes a waiver, exercised by every president since then, to postpone the move if dong such were to damage U.S. "national security." The waiver expires after six months but has been renewed every time.

On Sunday, Romney told CNN that he supports a two-state solution to solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Romney was asked if he saw the starting point for negotiations as the borders which existed prior to the 1967 Six Day War. He responded by saying, "I'm not being that specific. I'm saying that there will be borders that have to be negotiated and what the starting point is something which will be decided by the parties involved," adding "What the ending point is will be decided by the parties involved."

Addressing the issue of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, which the U.S. has criticized, Romney said that the issue "is something that should be discussed in private by the American president and our allies. When we show a diplomatic distance between ourselves and our ally, I think we encourage people who oppose that relationship to seek other means to achieve their ends."

The GOP candidate stood by his position that the U.S. should "keep a military option available" to handle Iran, should diplomatic efforts and sanctions not "dissuade them from becoming a nuclear capability nation. I certainly hope that our military, under the direction of the president, has, in fact, prepared a whole series of contingency plans, not only to previous Iran from becoming nuclear but to respond were Iran to become more belligerent in its - in its efforts." He added that the sanctions currently in place "could be, I'm sure, even more punitive."

On Monday, Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Romney of "rewarding occupation, settlement and extremism" and saying his positions are "harmful to American interests. I don't think occupation and aggression is rewarded even during an election campaign," Erekat was reported as saying, according to CNN.

"East Jerusalem is occupied territory," Erekat continued. "Those who seek peace between Palestine and Israel and those who seek to save lives must stand tall for the two state solution and for East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine."


Arabs Protest Israel's Participation in Olympics

By YnetNews.com

For millions of people across the world, the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games was a spectacular and moving symbol of unity. But there are some in the Arab media who insist upon viewing the multinational event as just another opportunity to showcase Israel as a "leprous entity."

During the opening ceremony, the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network provided its many viewers with elaborate commentary as each country's Olympic delegation marched down the London stadium. However, as soon as the Israeli delegation entered the stadium led by windsurfer Shahar Zubari who was wielding the Israeli flag with pride, the Arab broadcasters suddenly fell silent.

The festive ceremony was covered by the two renowned Arab sport commentators, Yousef Saif and Isam Shawali. As the Israeli team entered the stadium, Shawali said "They don't deserve it."

The Arab disdain for the Israeli Olympic team was quite apparent on the opening night of Olympic Games when Lebanese judo fighters refused to train on the same mat as the Israeli Olympic team, forcing Olympic officials to erect a screen between the two teams.

Boycotts of Israeli athletes in international competitions are not without precedent. In 2004, Israeli judoka Udi Wax was slotted to compete against then-world champion, Iran's Arash Mirasmaeili, but the latter initially refused to play as a demonstration of "solidarity with Palestinian suffering."

In Iran, citizens did not even have the option of watching the Israeli delegation march down the Olympic stadium on live television, as it is likely that the Islamic Republic chose to edit the live broadcast and air it at a later time, due to the "immodest appearance" of female athletes and the Israeli team's appearance on TV.

However, an Iranian opposition website reported that many Iranian citizens watched the Olympic ceremony using a direct broadcast satellite system. According to the report, the Iranians were not pleased about the short "camera time" the Iranian delegation received on TV, and accused the British director of quickly moving to film the next delegation.


Beersheva Woman: Bus Driver Called Me 'Stinking Ethiopian'

By YnetNews.com

A resident of Beersheva claimed that a bus driver called her a "stinking Ethiopian, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The 30-year-old woman said she was waiting at a bus stop with her five-year-old son last Tuesday when an elderly couple arrived and asked if she had change for a 50 shekel bill. "The man asked me if I had any small change, but I didn't, so when the bus arrived I asked the driver if he had any change for them. They were of Ethiopian descent, as I am, and I wanted to help them," she recalled.

"The driver said he didn't have any change, and when the couple tried to board the bus he yelled at the man: "Get off, you don't have any small change. Get off the bus."

The woman said the couple was trying to get to the Soroka Medical Center. "I pleaded with the driver and told them that the man's wife was not feeling well and that they were on their way to the hospital. I even suggested that he wait until the rest of the people at the station board the bus – then he would probably have change for them. But he began hurling insults at me. He said, 'Shut your mouth. It's none of your business, you stinking Ethiopian,' and hurled other racist slurs. I was shocked.

"We got into a heated argument. My son witnessed everything and became very upset. The driver also threatened me, saying 'if you don't stop, I'll beat you up.' And worst of all, the bus conductor did not intervene," the woman told Yedioth. "When I asked him why, he said 'if the driver would have raised his hand at you, I would have intervened.'"

The Metrodan bus company said it "condemns all expressions of racism on the part of its employees and has therefore summoned the driver to a hearing. The driver remembered the incident very differently." Metrodan said the driver, who is Bedouin, claimed it was the Ethiopian woman who hurled racist slurs at him. "I've never offended anyone by using racist remarks," the company quoted him as saying. The company added: "What's baffling is that the driver allowed the elderly couple to board the bus – so why would he go through all this trouble?"

However, the elderly woman told Yedioth that the Ethiopian mother did insult the driver: "He was the one who called her all sorts of names. I told him 'Why are you acting this way? We are all Jews here.' I didn't know he wasn't Jewish, and neither did the young woman."


Tourism Helps Israeli Town Situated by a Natural Crater

By Yanir Yagna

After years of economic hardship and demographic shrinkage, there's good news in Mitzpeh Ramon. The population of the small Negev desert town is growing and unemployment is down. This is because; say officials and residents, of its booming tourism industry.

Local authorities say the town's population has been growing steadily since 2008, when 5,179 people lived there. Today 5,456 residents live there. Also, unemployment has dropped steadily. Some 18 months ago, about 300 local residents lacked work, whereas today that figure is about 150, says Mitzpeh Ramon Mayor Flora Shoshan.

"Unlike other places in the country, there is significant development and economic growth here in Mitzpeh Ramon," she says. "We're attracting young people and there are new business initiatives. Tourism is growing at a tremendous rate, which impacts everything else. It encourages new businesses to open up."

About 400 jobs were created over the past year in Mitzpeh Ramon, Shoshan says. Some of the new employees come from neighboring towns such as Dimona, as well as from nearby Bedouin communities.

"A number of small businesses have been established here, and they provide jobs to residents from the entire region. Once, in Israel, the place to find work was in the center of the country, whereas today people are coming to the periphery to find employment," says Shoshan.

One big boost to the local economy came from Bereshit, a luxury hotel that opened 18 months ago. It offers visitors beautiful accommodations and fabulous views of the famous Ramon crater, hence the town's name, which means "View of the crater". The establishment of this hotel inspired the opening of gas stations, restaurants and leisure facilities for youths.

"Our hotel has given work to 240 people from the region; some 160 of these are Mitzpeh Ramon residents, either town veterans or people who came to live here after the hotel was opened," said the hotel's manager, Silvi Cohen Gabai, who moved into the town three years ago. "You can feel that there is more activity today in Mitzpeh Ramon. There is curiosity about this place, and Mitzpeh Ramon today attracts numerous tourists."



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