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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 11, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 104

Volcker Asks Swiss to Disclose Holocaust Accounts

The U.S. investigator leading the hunt for dormant Swiss bank accounts of Jews murdered during the Holocaust urged the country's bankers to publish the names of wartime account holders worldwide as soon as possible. Paul Volcker, a former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, heads an independent commission empowered by Swiss banks to waive banking secrecy rules in order to scrutinize wartime accounts. He said the commission expected the names of holders of dormant accounts opened before 1945 to be published in the coming weeks.

Gingrich: Palestinians Act Like Nazis

By Paula Wolfson (VOA-Capitol Hill)

The speaker of the House of Representatives says he is prepared to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority. Newt Gingrich says some Palestinian leaders are acting like Nazis by condoning and encouraging the murder of Arabs who sell land to Israelis. The tough talk came during debate on a broad foreign policy bill.

Gingrich has seldom been at a loss for words. He is known in Washington for his strong statements and sometimes blunt language. But he has never talked with such force and passion about the situation in the Middle East.

"The vigilante murder of realtors by Palestinian security officials is an egregious violation of human rights and international norms. The killings must be renounced by the Palestinian leadership and ended immediately. If not, I for one, will actively oppose the continuation of any aid to the Palestinian Authority."

He told the House there is evidence Palestinian leaders not only condoned but instigated the killings. And he drew a parallel to another period in history. "This is the kind of action we identify with Nazis. This is the kind of racist activity that this planet holds to be reprehensible and unacceptable."

For now, Gingrich's threat to cut off aid to the Palestinians is just that -- a threat. The foreign affairs bill now before Congress does not address the aid issue, although it does contain a statement of concern over the murders and the lack of remorse on the part of Palestinian officials.

Nobel Committee Asked to Revoke Arafat's Peace Prize

By Greg Flakus (VOA-Los Angeles)
In Los Angeles, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to revoke the 1994 prize given to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. The letter to the Nobel Committee follows the killing of three Palestinian men accused of selling land to Jews.

In a letter to the chairman of the committee, Rabbi Marvin Hier condemned Arafat for having tacitly accepted a proposal by his justice minister that anyone selling land to a Jew should be executed. While Arafat has not said anything public about the idea, Hier says that, as a Nobel Laureate, the Palestinian leader has an obligation to speak out against it.

"It has been at least a month since the justice minister announced that there would be a death sentence imposed. Mr. Arafat has had the time to rethink it. He still maintains it is the right decision."

Israeli officials say that the three Palestinians who were recently killed were targeted because they had sold land to Jews. Some Palestinian officials have said that the death penalty should be imposed by a court of law, but Arafat has had no comment on the issue.

Hier says that this policy of killing someone for selling land is abhorrent in itself and is made even more repulsive because it concerns sales of land to Jews, whether they are Israeli Jews or Jews from somewhere else. The head of the Wiesenthal Center says the committee must protect the esteem of the peace prize by taking it back from Arafat.

The Israel Festival of Music, Dance and Theater

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The annual two-week Israel Festival of Music, Dance and Theater is under way, but even at an arts festival, politics is never far away in the Middle East.

There are 52 scheduled events in the festival, ranging from the Kirov Ballet to modern dance, from the Jerusalem Symphony to a group called the "Bang on a Can All-Stars," and from Shakespeare to a modern theater presentation called "Enerzik," which is being performed in an industrial warehouse.

Organizers say the idea is to bring a sampling of the best of the world's performing arts to Israeli audiences. But performers from one part of the world are conspicuously under represented -- this part, the Middle East.

Micha Lewensohn, the festival's artistic director, commented on why there are almost no performers from the Middle East in the Israel festival. "We are wooing and are in constant dialogue with Palestinian groups and with artists from the Arab or Muslim world, some of them even not connected to the region. And it is very problematic and delicate because many of them are afraid to be part of the festival because of losing audiences elsewhere."

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