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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 4, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 60

Israel Deposits 500 Million Shekels in Secret Arafat Account

Haaretz reports that Israel has transferred at least 500 million shekels over the past three years to a secret account of Yasir Arafat in Tel Aviv. The account - known as Cashbox B - was opened in the Hashmonaim branch of Bank Leumi in 1994, and only Arafat and his economic advisor Muhammad Rashid were signatories. A document of the International Monetary Fund shows that this secret account is not under the supervision or control of the Palestinian Authority Treasury.

The source of the money is the import taxes collected by Israel on gasoline for Palestinian consumption; the other taxes that Israel is obligated to return to the PA, according to the Oslo agreements, are transferred to four other accounts in Gaza banks.

A senior Israeli government source said that the money is being set aside for Arafat in case of an overthrow; Dr. Mahed al Kurd, a high ranking official in the Palestinian Trade Ministry, said, "The PA has the right to create financial reserves in case of emergency, such as a civil war."

Terror Victim Sues Arafat

A lawsuit was filed in a Tel Aviv District Court against Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority by Shlomi Dan, who was severely wounded in last year's terrorist attack in Dizengoff Center. Dan demands 1 million shekels from the PA because of its negligence in not preventing terrorists from exiting its borders.

Dan has also sued the Arab driver who brought the terrorist in his truck from Gaza to Tel Aviv. The three defendants - the PA, Arafat, and the driver -- are represented by Attorney Jihad Klaud Nidam, who is responsible for legal aid to the autonomy on behalf of the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem. In the suit, Dan asks the court to seize the monies held in the Tel Aviv bank account. As a result of the March 1996 attack, Dan's legs are paralyzed, and his memory is impaired.

Historian: Jews Served in Wehrmacht

By Kyle King (VOA-Bonn)

An American historian researching the Nazi era says tens of thousands of soldiers classified as Jews served in the German army during World War 2. Historian Brian Rigg, who interviewed hundreds of the former soldiers of Jewish origin, says Adolf Hitler personally allowed dozens of officers to serve in the army. Writing in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Rigg tells the story of several former Wehrmacht officers who served Hitler, despite their Jewish origins. One of the officers, Maj. Ernst Bloch, used his wartime position as a high-ranking army intelligence official to help smuggle an ultra-Orthodox rabbi out of Warsaw and on to the United States. Another was decorated for bravery for destroying six Russian tanks in one of the most ferocious battles of World War 2.

Rigg, who is planning to write a book based on the interviews he has done, says there more than 10,000 soldiers of Jewish descent who served in the Wehrmacht. In many cases they did so while their families were being systematically killed by the Nazis.

Juliana Wetzel, a historian at the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism in Berlin, says it is well-known that many Jews served in the Wehrmacht. "The surprising fact is that he could find so many people and could find so many names...and people could identify them as people who were in the Wehrmacht, and were Jewish."

Reporting on his research, Rigg says in many cases Hitler personally decided which soldiers or officers of Jewish descent could stay in the military. And he says the decisions were different from case to case.

Probably the most well known example was that of Field Marshall Erhard Milch, who despite his Jewish origins rose to the rank of Luftwaffe Inspector General and was later convicted of war crimes.

The reasons given by Jews who did serve in Hitler's army are varied. Rigg says some thought serving the Nazis would help save their families, others were former World War 1 veterans. Others thought of themselves more as Germans than as Jews.

Claus Baersch, the director of the "Steinheim Institute for German Jewish History" in Duisburg, says he believes many served in the army because they had little choice. "In my was an emergency situation for many of these people, who as Jews were trying to find security from police, the Gestapo, and the threat of the concentration camps."

Some historians say they are concerned that Rigg's research will be used by those who want to minimize German responsibility for the Holocaust. But others like Juliana Wetzel say the stories of those who lived through the Nazi era, including Jews who served in the army, provide a valuable piece to a puzzle that historians are still trying to understand.

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