Newsletter : 5fax1215.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Dec. 15, 1995, V3, #228
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Will Syria Agree to Peace?
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Secretary of State Warren Christopher is spending the weekend in
the Middle East, trying to take advantage of renewed hope for
progress toward peace between Israel and Syria. Christopher's
shuttle mission is being approached with optimism, tempered with
memories of past disappointments.
Six weeks ago, before the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin, the Israel-Syria talks were deadlocked, with no
apparent prospects for a breakthrough. Now, conciliatory words are
being exchanged between Jerusalem and Damascus, via the
international media, and analysts are speaking about the best
chance for achieving Israel-Syria peace in a long time.
There is much speculation about exactly why this is true. One
reason, from the Israeli side, is the apparently greater
willingness by the new Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to
seek new ways to move the talks forward, through a clearer
statement of Israel's readiness to withdraw from the Golan
Heights and a proposal to broaden negotiations beyond Israel's
key demands for security arrangements.
Israel Foreign Minister Ehud Barak says Peres laid out his approach
during his visit to Washington earlier this week. "Peres presented
to them a major initiative. He opened almost every possible
approach from procedure, and he suggested a much wider spectrum of
problems and aspects of an overall peace to be dealt with
simultaneously with the other problems vis a vis the Syrians. We
expect now the Syrian response. It takes two to tango. We are
ready, but we cannot perform the role of both sides."
Campaigning for Office in 'Palestine'
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Palestinian candidates began registering Thursday for elections set
for Jan. 20, Even though full details of how the election will work
have not yet been made public. Business executives, activists and
other Palestinians went to special offices in the West Bank and
Gaza Thursday to present at least 500 signatures and $1,000 in
order to get on the ballot for the Palestinian Council.
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat is expected to register as a
candidate for president, the job he now holds, during a visit
today to the newly-autonomous West Bank city of Nablus. Several
people have said they will challenge Arafat, but he is expected to
The election law has not been fully published, but it appears
Arafat has chosen a system which gives opposition members some
chance of being elected.
Palestinian sources say Arafat rejected a "winner-take-all" system,
in which the leading party in each district would have won all that
district's seats. The opposition, and even some officials within
Fatah, warned that would give Arafat's party too big a majority.
Arafat appears to have chosen a system which will allow the
opposition to win something less than that, but still a respectable
percentage. Sources say voters will choose individual candidates,
with the top vote getters in each district taking its seats on the
council. Analysts say this will allow popular oppositionists and
independents to win some seats. The election campaign is to begin
Dec. 30, The day after Israel is to complete its withdrawal from
West Bank cities.
(Anglit Ka'lah--Easy English)
By Nancy Steinbach (VOA-Washington)
The Jewish family, the Maccabees, led a rebellion for religious
freedom more than 2,000 years ago. Jews everywhere still celebrate
their story at this time of the year. It is the holiday of
More than 2,000 years ago, a Greek-Syrian king ruled the area that
is now Israel. He attempted to suppress the Jewish religion. He
placed statues of Greek gods in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. He
also tried to force the Jews to accept his religion.
Judah Maccabee led a small group of Jews against the Greek-Syrian
ruler. The Jews won the battle. They also won the freedom to
follow their own religion. They began to remove Greek influence
from the Temple in Jerusalem.
Old books say that the Maccabees found only enough oil to light
the Holy Temple lamp for one day. Yet that one-day supply burned
for eight days -- until the Jews could get more oil. This is why
Chanukah is celebrated for eight days.
This year, Chanukah begins Sunday night. Jews all over the world
will say Hebrew prayers. They will light a lamp called a menorah.
A menorah holds nine candles. One candle is called the shamus. It
is used to light the other candles.
On the first night, the shamus lights only one candle. On each of
the following nights, it lights one more. On the last night of
Chanukah, all eight candles and the shamus will burn brightly. On
each night of the holiday, parents tell the Chanukah story to
children and guests. Everyone sings songs of joy. They play games
and eat special foods. And everyone exchanges gifts. It is a
Jews do not consider Chanukah a major religious holiday. But
Jewish leaders say it is important. It is a time for Jews to give
thanks for the freedom to worship God in their own way.
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