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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 6, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 103

Is War Possible in the Middle East?

By Ed Warner (VOA-Washington)

With the breakdown of the Middle East peace process and growing acrimony between Israel and its Arab neighbors, there is talk of a possible war.

There is a real change of atmosphere, says Israel's military chief of staff, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak. He senses more tension in the air. So in his opinion, war could possibly break out again in the Middle East.

He cites in particular the shift of Syrian troops from Beirut to the foot of the Golan Heights. They might launch a surprise attack on the Golan, then use the threat of their missile force to deter an Israeli counterattack. From this more favorable position, they could call for talks.

This could happen, says Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "it is not unlike the logic behind Anwar Sadat in 1973, whereby Sadat chose military attack as a way to energize diplomacy, to get back eventually all of the Sinai. The Syrians may view that they cannot achieve their goals solely by diplomacy and that they would want to go to war to shake up the peace process and get more attention on their claims. And that is a distinct possibility."

Satloff says Syria would expect the international community to intervene and impose a cease-fire before Israel retaliates.

Why would Syria's enigmatic president Hafez al-Assad want to take such a risk? Satloff says he is concerned with more than the Golan Heights. "Assad may fear that peace with Israel may force an opening in his authoritarian closed society. He would no longer have a rationale for maintaining a military dictatorship, and his people might demand an opening, which would undermine his rule."

Assad is noted for adroit maneuver, says Michael Hudson, professor of international relations and Arab studies at Georgetown University. To go to start a war with Israel would be totally irrational.

"If you look objectively at the military balance in the region, there is no particular reason to think that war is imminent...The counterstrike that would inevitably occur, should they use missiles against Israel, would be utterly catastrophic and devastating to Syria."

Does Bible Hold Code That Tells Future?

A new book has been published that claims the Torah contains a secret code that nearly 3,000 years ago foretold the Holocaust and the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The book reports the code, found in the Tanach by an Israeli computer expert, also prophesied other historical events and warns of an atomic war that may bring the end of the world within eight years.

"The Bible Code" has been purchased by Warner Brothers, which sees it as a vehicle for Raiders of the Lost Ark fans, but tempered with doses of predictions.

Its author, Michael Drosnin, a former reporter for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, said he not afraid to confront critics.

Critics say the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, and which religious Jews believe was dictated by God to Moses, is God's word and should not be used the way it is being used. Drosnin insists his work is serious and based on five years of research and the work of Eliyahu Rips, a respected Israeli mathematician and computer expert.

Rips took all the words in the Old Testament, eliminating the spaces between them and, turning them into one continuous strand of 304,805 letters.

Rips used a computer and searched the strand for names and phrases using a skip code that adds every fourth or 12th or 50th letter to form a word. He said he found a hidden network of words and phrases, verified by several experts.

Drosnin said Bible's code provided interlocking information, such as Hitler and Nazi; the Holocaust encoded; and the words Kennedy combined with Dallas.

Drosnin said he discovered references to atomic war and Holocaust and Israel for the year 2000 and 2006, but he saw the combinations as a warning, not as a prediction.

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