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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Aug. 20, 1996 V4, #153
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Ground Breaking for Tel Aviv Subway

Preliminary work on the building of a subway system in Tel Aviv has started. The subway will service the entire area stretching from Ashdod to Netanya. At the first stage, exploratory drilling will be carried out along the proposed subway route in order to detect changes in the type of ground at various locations. It is hoped that the subway will be operable within five years.

Islamic Terrorists Aiding the Basque

By Gil Carbajal (VOA-Madrid)

The Spanish weekly Tiempo, quoting Israeli and French intelligence sources, reports the Basque terrorist organization ETA has agreed to work closely with Islamic terrorists directed from Iran.

Citing Israeli intelligence sources, the report in Tiempo magazine says Islamic terrorists are being forced to reduce their presence in northern Europe, especially in Britain and Belgium. It says they are interested in increasing activities in France and Spain, particularly in Bourdeaux, Toulouse, Limoges, Barcelona and Valencia. In exchange for its help, ETA has asked for Iranian-produced missiles.

Reserves-Dodging At All-Time High

"The dodging of military reserves duty has reached catastrophic proportions," IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shachak said. At a meeting with members of Parachutists' Association, Shachak strongly criticized the Kibbutz movement, saying that in terms of volunteering for combat units and willingness to serve as officers, it "has become bankrupt."

Kibbutz members present at the meeting agreed that Shachak was not far from the truth. On the other hand, he specifically singled out the Hesder yeshiva students of the IDF, "whose motivation to serve has not decreased at all." The number of reserves soldiers who have received exemptions for health reasons has increased 10-fold over the past five years.

4 Million Tourists Expected for Millennium Celebrations.

Officials in the Tourism Ministry believe 4 million Christian tourists will visit Israel to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of Jesus' birth.

Former Religious Affairs Minister Shimon Shetreet and the ministry official responsible for Christian affairs asked the Vatican to provide an estimate of the expected number of pilgrims. The Vatican responded that it expects 20 million visitors to celebrate the event in Israel.

The celebration will begin in April 1999 and last until December 2000, in order to provide every interested pilgrim with an opportunity to participate. Preparations are in the works to permit visitors arriving by plane to land at airports in Egypt and Jordan, so as to alleviate flight traffic at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Jewish Studies Controversy at Queens College

By Valerie Gartseff (VOA-Washington)

Queens College in New York has recently been embroiled in a quarrel over the appointment of a non-Jewish professor to head its Department of Jewish Studies. The incident has reignited a debate among American Jews about how to preserve Jewish identity in a pluralistic society.

Jewish religious scholar, Thomas Bird, a Roman Catholic, resigned just two weeks after being named head of Queens College's Jewish Studies program. He did so after several faculty members opposed his appointment. Simply not being Jewish, they said, was reason enough not to allow the appointment to stand.

Jonathan Mahler is editor of "The Forward," a weekly newspaper on Jewish affairs. The Queens College controversy, he says, points to the danger of mixing issues of Jewish religious identity with academic disciplines.

"The religion was not a valid issue -- I mean, his religion. He is Catholic, a professor of Yiddish. I think that some people have wrongly looked to Jewish studies in the academy to sort of provide students with Jewish education that they may have missed out on earlier in life, the sort of Jewish education they didn't get at home when they were growing up, or the Hebrew schools that they didn't attend for whatever reason. I think unfortunately, they looked to Jewish studies as a sort of 'court of last resort' for these Jewish students, which might explain what was animating the critics of Prof. Thomas Bird, the Catholic gentleman."

Indeed, this incident comes at a time when many Jews fear an erosion of Jewish identity in America. They point to the rising assimilation of Jews in American life. Jewish intermarriage with non-Jews in the U.S. is at an all-time high -- over 50 percent, and, they argue, synagogue attendance is still too low.

For religious Jews, more religion is the solution to a stronger Jewish identity. But even among religious Jews, he says there are differences of belief in what Judaism means or even requires. But whether religious or secular, Jews in America will continue to face the challenge of finding ways to ensure that their grandchildren remain Jews.

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