Newsletter : 7fax0723.txt
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>JN July 23, 1997, Vol. 5, Num. 133
Netanyahu Loses Confidence Vote but Stays in Power
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost a parliamentary
no-confidence vote Monday but stayed in office as opposition
parties failed to rally enough support to topple his government.
The vote in the 120-member parliament went 49-44 against Netanyahu
on a no-confidence motion over rising unemployment. Bringing down
the government requires an absolute majority of 61 legislators.
Netanyahu's coalition partners from the National Religious Party
stayed away from the vote.
Dead Sea Scroll Conference Under Way
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
An international conference marking 50 years since the discovery of
the Dead Sea Scrolls opened this week in Jerusalem. Most scholars
believe the 2,000-year-old scrolls were written by a secretive
breakaway Jewish sect that hid them in caves for safe keeping.
While considered one of the greatest archeological discoveries ever
made, the scrolls are still buried in both political and scholarly
With 350 scholars from all over the world, the Congress on the Dead
Sea Scrolls is the largest scholarly conclave ever held on the
Between 1947 and 1956, scrolls were found in 11 caves dotting the
hills above Qumran on the Dead Sea. In all, 800 documents were
found, written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, containing Old
Testament texts, psalms, commentaries and other works. Some of the
scrolls are written in code. A 60-member team of experts is trying
to piece together thousands of scroll fragments and publish a
complete text by 2001.
Israel Museum Director James Snyder calls the scrolls the most
significant patrimony of the State of Israel and one of the most
significant in the history of mankind.
"In a way, the scrolls are for us what the Mona Lisa is for the
Louvre in Paris. People come to Jerusalem and on their checklist of
significant cultural objects they have the Dead Sea Scrolls. They
feel the need to come and see them, to look at the shrine, to
observe the scrolls and to leave. Our great worry... is that
people look at the scrolls without any sense of understanding
of their history, importance, context and meaning. So for us this
Congress became an opportunity through the course of the year to
celebrate the scrolls."
The Dead Sea Scrolls conference is already provoking lively, even
bitter debates. The most widely held view of the origin of the
scrolls is that Qumran was the library of the secretive Essenes,
but some scholars challenge that view, saying the scrolls were
written elsewhere, possibly in the Temple in Jerusalem.
One dispute that is not being debated at the conference is the
political one. Israel bought some of the scrolls in the 1950s soon
after they were unearthed. These are kept at the Israel Museum,
located in west Jerusalem. Other scrolls were acquired after the
1967 Mideast war when Israel captured east Jerusalem. That's where
the Rockefeller Museum is located and serves as home to many of the
scrolls. The Palestinians challenge Israel's right to ownership of
the scrolls, calling the capture of the documents "theft."
Speaking at a news conference, the head of the Israel Antiquities
Authority, Amir Drori, rejected Palestinian claims, saying Israel
would keep the 2,000 year-old documents because they were legally
inherited and an inseparable part of Jewish tradition. So the issue
of the ownership of the scrolls has been left to final status
talks, aimed at reaching an overall political settlement.
Document Says Vatican Hid Fascist Gold
The Vatican stored 200 million Swiss francs, mostly in gold
coins, for Croatian fascists just after World War 2 to keep the
money out of Allied hands, according to a previously classified
The October 1946 document marks the first time in more than a
year-long hunt of national archives that the Vatican has been
mentioned in connection with gold looted by the Nazis or their
allies. A&E Television said it found the document during research
for a two-hour documentary, "Blood Money: Switzerland's Nazi Gold,"
that it will broadcast Saturday.
The Vatican denied the report that it had stored $130 million for
Croatian fascists. The U.S. document, dated said that pro-Nazi
Croatian fascists removed about $230 million from Yugoslavia at the
end of the war. In the document, U.S. Treasury Department official
Emerson Bigelow wrote to the department's director of monetary
research that the British managed to capture only about $87
million. He said a reliable source in Italy had told him the
Vatican held the rest.
In other news. Swiss banks published a list of more than 2,000
names on dormant accounts opened by foreigners before 1945,
including assets left by Jewish Holocaust victims, in the Wednesday
edition of the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
There was no mention in the list of how much money the accounts
contained but Swiss sources said it was around $40 million -- much
more than originally believed. Izvestia was the first newspaper to
carry the advertisement, which was to appear in papers worldwide as
the Swiss Bankers' Association breaks with a tradition of secrecy
after criticism by Jewish groups.
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