Newsletter : 7fax0711.txt
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>July 11, 1997, Vol. 5, #125
Gush Katif Residents Accuse IDF of Using Disguised Arabs
Jewish residents of Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip say the IDF is
employing undercover personnel disguised as Arabs against them.
They have rejected the IDF spokesman's denials, alleging that the
special unit was set up with the intent of frustrating the protest
activity of Gush Katif residents against the restraint shown by the
IDF and the government towards Palestinian incursions onto their
Anti-Christian Bill Passes First Knesset Reading
Christians in Palestine and Israel are facing threats as
militant Palestinians, and Israelis exhibit increased xenophobia.
A newly proposed Israeli law that would let authorities jail anyone
who shares Christian literature.
The proposed legislation is aimed at those who possess, print,
reproduce, distribute, import, track or publicize information meant
as an inducement to religious conversion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement: "It has come
to my attention that a bill before the Israeli parliament
concerning possession of missionary literature has created a stir
among our many Christian friends.
"I would like to assure you that this bill does not have the
support of the Israeli Government...But to become law, it must pass
three additional readings. The government strenuously objects to
this bill and will act to ensure that it does not pass."
"We are a Jewish state," explains Israeli Knesset member and bill
co-sponsor Niffim Zilli. "We want to remain a Jewish state."
Rabbi David Rosen of the Anti-Defamation League opposes the bill,
but admits that democracy does not have deep roots in Israel. "We
are dealing with a society that is very fragile in terms of its own
self-confidence and its ability to function within the modern
democratic world, and therefore you have to take that into
Swiss Gold Update
Sixty percent of the Swiss people now believe the country
avoided involvement in World War 2 mainly because of its financial
and business dealings with the Nazis, according to a recent poll of
1,014 people conducted by a Swiss sociologist. Young people and the
highly educated were particularly likely to hold this view.
The Jewish community of Zurich, the largest in Switzerland, has
severed all business relations with Union Bank of Switzerland. The
bank earlier this year fired a security guard who had rescued
Holocaust-era documents from the shredder.
Palestine Refugee Appeal
By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)
The United Nations has launched an emergency appeal to assist more
than 350,000 Palestinian refugees living in camps in Lebanon
through next year. This is the first emergency appeal in the 50
year history of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The agency says the Palestinian refugees are on the brink of
despair. It says the refugees have to cope with a growing social
and economic crisis at a time when international aid is declining.
Agency head Peter Hansen says the situation has worsened since the
Gulf War. He says this is because they can no longer go abroad to
work and they can't find work in Lebanon. Hansen says more than 40
percent of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are unemployed.
"The Lebanese-Palestinian refugees are systematically excluded from
employment in most of the sectors of the Lebanese economy. In
other words, they can't go abroad and earn a living anymore and it
is virtually impossible for them to do that in Lebanon itself."
Many refugees are living in camps where conditions are described by
observers as appalling. Hansen says many Lebanese consider the
Palestinians a huge burden and want to get rid of them. He says
the Lebanese are afraid that if the Palestinians improve their
living conditions, they will never want to leave Lebanon.
Therefore, he says the Lebanese government denies the refugees
access to education and public health services, including
hospitalization. This means the Palestinians are totally dependent
on UNRWA for these and other life support services.
Hansen says UNRWA has reached the end of its means. It is
appealing urgently for $11 million to prevent further cuts in
services over the next two years.
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