Newsletter : 6fax0924.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Sept 24, 1996 V4, #176
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Israel to Ease West Bank-Gaza Closure
Israel will ease the closure on the territories this week, Ha'aretz
reported. The decision was made after a meeting last week between
Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai and Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yasir Arafat. Security authorities will issue an
additional 6,000 exit permits as well as partially lift limitations
on the passage of commercial goods.
Pre-WW2 Hungarian Synagogue Reopens
By Stefan Bos (VOA-Budapest)
Europe's biggest synagogue reopened this month in the Hungarian
capital, Budapest, after a painstaking reconstruction. Hungary's
Jewish community hopes the reopening will lead to a revival of the
Religious music reverberated through the 137-year-old synagogue
during the ceremony, as the building was reopened following a
Twenty-seven bombs damaged the historic structure during World War
2. But after the war, Hungary's communist government did not
allow the Jewish community to rebuild the synagogue. The
renovation was not started until just five years ago, in 1991.
Speaking trough an interpreter at the ceremony, Hungarian President
Arpad Goncz called the reopening of the synagogue a triumph over
persecution. "The reopening of this synagogue, for us, is a double
holiday because first the synagogue was reopened, but second
holiday for us is because it is a synagogue in which the people
suffered during the war, and is created on the basis of the many
thousands of Jewish people who died here in this place."
The director of the Jewish Museum in Budapest, Robert Turan, sees
the reopening as a bitter sweet victory after the Holocaust in
which 600,000 Hungarian Jews died.
"The restoration of the synagogue and the whole complex for us is
symbolic. It symbolizes the restoration of the Jewish spirit in
eastern Europe, and it is very important for us."
But Turan fears extremists may try to obstruct religious services
from taking place. He noted a series of attacks by vandals on
Jewish cemeteries in Budapest and elsewhere in Hungary this year.
Just how serious the problem is in Hungary was made obvious
immediately after a conversation with Turan, when an angry woman
said Jews and gypsies are taking over Hungary. "I am very angry.
They want only to develop, to establish a Jewish community here and
a gypsy community here. But for we Hungarians, there is no life
here. We are dying from starvation here."
This view is shared by extreme rightwing parties who try to exploit
Hungary's difficult economic situation.
One man, 77-year-old Laszlo Varkony, whose family survived the
Holocaust, said this kind of idea cast a shadow over the reopening
ceremony. He says he was hoping the synagogue on the edge of what
was the Jewish ghetto during the Nazi-era would become a meeting
place for both Jews and non-Jews. But Varkony says extremists are
trying to block the road towards reconciliation between the
different religious groups in Hungary.
"Unfortunately, there are people still in Hungary who are
anti-Semites. That is a very sad thing. Fifty years after the
Holocaust there are still people who are of that opinion. It is
Among the people attending the re-opening ceremony were former
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Congressman Tom Lantos,
who was born in Hungary.
Lantos said he hopes Hungary will overcome what he calls its dark
past. And he said the reopening of the synagogue is of great
importance for Hungary's future relationship with the international
"The reopening of this enormously important and historic place of
worship is a tribute to Hungary's commitment to religious freedom,
which surely was not the case during earlier periods when I had the
occasion to live in this country."
Lantos and leaders of the Jewish community say they hope the
rebuilt synagogue will lead to a revival of the Jewish faith and
its centuries old traditions in Hungary.
FDA OKs Israeli Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
An advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has
recommended approving Copaxone, a drug developed by Teva
Pharmaceuticals, for sales in the United States.
The drug was developed as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. The
breakthrough for Teva marks the first time that U.S. officials have
approved a new drug developed in Israel that is not an imitation of
an existing medicine.
The decision carries great financial significance due to the fact
that American sales alone for the drug are expected to reach over
$1 billion. The decision is also expected to push up Teva's stock
Copaxone, or copolymer-1 as it is referred to by scientists, was
developed based on breakthroughs made by scientists at the Weizmann
Institute in Rehovot.
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