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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      March 1, 1995, V3, #41
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Quote for the day: "Israel will be doomed to destruction, with Allah's help." (Sheik Agrameh Sabri, PLO-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Voice of Palestine (PLO) Radio 2/3)

Germany will Celebrate End of World War II

By Evans Hays (Bonn)

Germany has formally announced it will host a commemoration ceremony May 8 in Berlin to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. German President Roman Herzog, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and other leaders are expected to attend.

Details of the commemoration are still being worked out and there is no official guest list yet. But observers agree the commemoration will be a major event, with Germany portraying the 1945 date as an end to the Nazi tyranny and a rebirth of its own democracy.

The commemoration in Berlin will conclude several months of events in Germany and elsewhere in Europe related to World War II

Memorial services marking the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland have already been held and more commemorations of the Holocaust are planned over the next two months.

Herzog is due to attend a memorial service in late April at Bergen-Belsen -- one of the most notorious of the Nazi death camps.

Arabs Bring Anti-Israeli Complaints to U.N.

By Elaine Johanson (United Nations)

The United Nations Security Council Tuesday held a formal meeting -- at the request of Arab countries -- to hear complaints about Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The Palestine Liberation Organization warned continuing settlement activity is raising tensions and complicating the peace process.

PLO representative Nasser al-Kidwa called for an immediate end to all settlement activity in the occupied territories. While Israel is not building new settlements, it allows existing ones to be expanded -- through private, rather than state funding.

The PLO says this is a violation of the spirit of the 1993 agreement it signed with Israel, which puts off the issue of the Israeli settlements for a later stage in their bilateral negotiations.

The United States announced at the outset the debate would not result in a resolution. In fact, the US was against even holding a Council meeting. US representative Edward Gnehm warned the public airing of grievances could have a negative impact on the peace talks.

The Security Council had stayed away from the Arab-Israeli dispute -- largely in deference to the on-going negotiations and the big-power sponsorship. In years past, the US would balance Council action against Israel with an occasional veto when it felt resolutions were one-sided. Israel has always argued that the region's problems could be settled only in direct talks.

Japanese Muslims Celebrate Ramadan

By Pamela Burton (Tokyo)

Ramadan, the important Islamic month of fasting, is now being celebrated by hundreds of millions of Muslims across the world. Japan's small Islamic community this year has something special to be thankful for.

This year's celebration of Ramadan has special significance to many of Japan's more than 100,000 Muslims. One of the only two mosques in the entire country is located in Kobe, and it survived January's disastrous earthquake with extremely little damage.

Muslims here are calling that an act of grace from God. They say the mosque, Japan's oldest, was spared because the night before the deadly quake struck, the faithful had been gathered for prayers.

With the survival of the mosque, more than 500 Muslims are expected to be gathered there again Friday for one of the two biggest events in the Islamic calendar. The festivities called Eid-ul-Fitr, will bring Ramadan to an official close.

The survival of the Kobe mosque has thus added a special poignancy to the Ramadan prayers taking place every day after sunset for the past month in homes and meeting sites across the country.

In Muslim countries, Ramadan is a time of public celebration and widespread participation. In Japan, where fewer than one percent of the population is Muslim, believers celebrate more privately. But because of its small size, the Islamic community also worships more peacefully. Japan provides a rare opportunity for disparate groups such as the Shiites and Sunnis -- Muslims that traditionally have kept apart and even quarreled at times -- to worship and socialize together.

Though small, Japan's diverse Islamic community includes Muslims from all schools of thought. While the biggest group of Muslims here are Pakistanis, there are also large Bangladeshi and Iranian populations. Other nationalities include Malaysians, Indonesians, Filipinos, Singaporeans, Egyptians and Algerians.

Japanese Muslims are a tiny but growing minority. Their numbers are mainly rising due to the increasing number of marriages between Japanese women and Muslim men. Many of those Japanese women have converted to Islam, which has led to a greater awareness of and interest in the religion in Japanese society-at-large.

Nevertheless, most Japanese are genuinely puzzled to hear about Ramadan. There is no concept of total fasting for religious reasons here. Even the strictest Buddhist is always allowed to drink beverages during a fast.

Muslims say the need to explain Ramadan to those unfamiliar with the holidays is the only real difference in observing it in Japan. If anything, they say, the combination of a cooler climate and shorter hours of sunlight makes for a more comfortable, if somewhat quieter, celebration.

CD-ROM System for Deaf-Mutes
(Yediot Aharonot)

An Israeli company developing multi-media learning systems has devised a computerized system, thought to be unique, for teaching sign language used by deaf-mutes through a computer. It is based on the American sign-language system and marketed on CD-ROM discs through an American publisher, Harper-Collins, for $60. The disc includes video, color animation, graphics and video-clips.

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