Newsletter : 5fax0103.txt
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>PD Jan. 3, 1995, V3, #1
Rabin Orders El Khader Construction to Stop
By Patricia Golan (Jerusalem)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin says construction must
halt on expanding a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The Cabinet
worked out a compromise between settlers who want to expand their
town and Palestinians who want construction stopped.
The proposed compromise would move the building site from the new
neighborhood to a hill next to Efrat, not next to the Arab
The dispute erupted two weeks ago when bulldozers were sent to
clear a road for a new neighborhood of Efrat, near Bethlehem. The
rocky hilltop site lies between Efrat and the adjoining Arab
village of El Khader, whose residents claim ownership of the land.
Palestinians and Israeli sympathizers have been holding almost
daily protest demonstrations against the expansion of the
Cabinet Minister Amnon Rubinstein says most government ministers
are opposed to the expansion of Efrat. "We think it was erroneous
to start this conflict. It was erroneous to switch this project
from an area which was adjacent to the Jewish settlement to an
area which was very close to an Arab village. And we think it was
a mistake to bring about this bone of contention."
The government must decide how to freeze construction without
provoking a confrontation with either the 120,000 Jewish
settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, who oppose territorial
compromise, or the Palestinians, who see any construction in
these areas as a violation of the peace agreement.
Palestinian attorney Shauki Issa, who represents the residents of
the village of El Khader, says anything less than a full halt to
the construction at the site and returning the land to the
Palestinians is unacceptable. "All the land confiscation on the
West Bank is illegal and last week they confiscated more lands in
different areas of the West Bank. The aim was clear to have new
roads for the settlers and to expand the existing settlements. All
these kinds of activities from settlers and from the Israeli
government are illegal."
Will Male Circumcision be Banned Next?
By Kim Reid (Cairo)
During the International Population Conference in Cairo last
September, Egyptian officials pledged to bring an end to the
practice of female circumcision. However, because of opposition
from conservative religious groups in Egypt, the government is
backing down on its earlier promise, and is even allowing the
procedure to be carried out in government hospitals.
An estimated 80-percent of Egyptian girls -- Muslim and Christian
-- undergo the procedure, in which some or all of their outer
genitalia is removed. This is thought to guarantee a woman's
chastity later in life, by denying her sexual pleasure.
Egypt's most prominent family planning activist Aziza Hussein has
been fighting to eradicate the practice for more than a decade.
"It's an old tradition that has been going on, and it gets covered
up by any kind of religious justification, especially that it is
thought that it really preserves a girl's chastity. That is the
worst part of it."
Hussein says most of her efforts were low-profile before the
UN conference three months ago. A Western television broadcast
during the conference showed a village barber cutting off the
genitalia of a screaming 10-year-old girl.
The broadcast embarrassed Egyptian officials during their shining
moment as the conference's host country. Egypt's Population
Minister Maher Mahran quickly made a public pledge to women's
groups at the meeting to stop the practice.
But as the glare of international media coverage has faded, so
too, has Egyptian resolve to halt a practice that is so deeply
ingrained in the country's culture.
Mahran has run into stiff opposition from conservative
Muslim clerics who say this is a matter for families to decide.
The Egyptian Health Ministry took a different tack. It says
banning the practice would only drive it underground, and cause
more illegal, unsanitary operations. The government passed a
decree ordering government hospitals to perform the circumcision
operation for free, one day a week, for anyone who wants it.
Despite the odds against her, Hussein says she is not discouraged.
She says women's groups were not able to fight female circumcision
so openly until the recent UN Population Conference in Cairo gave
them a voice.
From "Jewish Humor" by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
A man brings some very fine material to a tailor and asks him to
make a pair of pants. When he comes back a week later, the pants
are not ready. Two weeks later, they are still not ready. Finally,
after six weeks, the pants are ready. The man tries them on and
they fit perfectly. Nonetheless, when it comes time to pay, he
can't resist a jibe at the tailor.
"You know," he says, "it took God only six days to make the world
and it took you six weeks to make just one pair of pants."
"Ah," the tailor says, "But look at this pair of pants, and look at
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