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>Israel Faxx
>JN March 7, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 40

Switzerland Proposes $4.7 Billion Fund for Nazi Victims

Switzerland's president, Arnold Koller, has proposed using the nation's gold reserves to endow a $4.7 billion fund to aid Holocaust victims. That decision is a major concession to international groups that claim Swiss banks still hold the accounts of Jews murdered during World War 2.

The Swiss Foundation for Solidarity would help "victims of poverty and catastrophes, of genocide and other severe breaches of human rights such as, of course, victims of the Holocaust," Koller said.

The foundation would be funded with proceeds from Switzerland's 26,000-ton gold reserves, and eventually could produce several hundred million dollars a year. Money would be divided among needy recipients both inside and outside Switzerland.

The chairman of the Swiss National Bank, Hans Meyer, said the plan would require amending Switzerland's constitution. Swiss conservatives have attacked the move as tantamount to an admission of guilty behavior during the war.

The proposed fund would be in addition to a $67 million humanitarian fund set up last month by Switzerland's main commercial banks.

"This is first and foremost a victory for the moral position for which we have fought all along the way," said Avraham Burg, the head of the Jewish Agency, who had initiated the inquiry into Holocaust victims' dormant Swiss bank accounts.

In Jerusalem, a spokesman for the Israeli government welcomed the proposal. "Any action taken by the Swiss government in the direction of dealing with these issues in order to try and correct injustices of the past is certainly welcome," said Moshe Fogel, head of the government press office.

However, Jonathan Lemberger, the head of the Amcha group that helps Holocaust survivors in Israel, said it was wrong of Switzerland to lump Nazi victims in with other humanitarian causes. "The money should certainly come first to Holocaust survivors."


Forecast Storm Warning 48 Hours in Advance

A new computerized system for forecasting wave movements and dangerous storms at sea has been developed at the Israeli Institute for Marine Engineering, at the Haifa Technion.

Its director, Professor Michael Shtiyasny, says it is the first of its kind in the world. It is connected with regular meteorological stations and conveys real time data and 48-hour warning forecasts of dangerous conditions at sea.

Long waves represent the greatest invisible danger and the advance warning enables port authorities, marinas and bathing beaches to take emergency measures in time to prevent disasters and damage. Mathematical models measure wave activity to determine conditions for movements of vessels and conditions of anchoring.


Israeli Scientists Find Treatment for Psoriasis

Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center scientists have produced a new medication to treat the skin disease psoriasis and it has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval before being clinically tested on humans. It contains synthetic materials which have been effective against psoriasis cells, and in some cases also against cancer cells. However, no patent yet exists for the medication.

Professors Alex Levitzky and Aviv Gazit from the Biochemical Department, and Professor Hannah Ben-Bassat from the Experimental Surgery Department at the Hebrew University prepared the compound for the disease, which is a hereditary skin ailment affecting 3 percent of the world's population.


Old Skin Can be "Rejuvenated"

Researchers in the laboratory for the study of skin and ageing at the Medical Faculty of the Haifa Technion have succeeded in "rejuvenating" the skin of an old man, by implanting it on a laboratory mouse. After its implant, the old skin renewed itself; a microscopic examination showed it could not be distinguished from the skin of a young man.

This discovery that skin can rehabilitate itself is a scientific breakthrough in research on aging and could become the basis of developing external devices for rejuvenating skin. The implanting of human skin on lab mice especially imported from Scandinavia has been going on for the past two years. These are mice without an auto-immune system which would have rejected the implants.

The discovery that the aging of human skin is reversible indicates a scientific breakthrough according to Dr. Amos Gilhar, a senior lecturer in the faculty, who carried out the experiment. He said the discovery has worldwide dimensions.


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