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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 8, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 223

Empty Mezuzah Cases on Municipal Door Posts

When members of the Jerusalem Rabbinate inspected the mezuzot on the doorposts of tens of entrances belonging to offices and buildings of the Jerusalem Municipality, they were shocked to find empty cases, without the Torah scroll that was to be inside each case. Following the demands of Orthodox municipal employees, inspections will be carried out on other buildings in the Jerusalem city hall complex as well.

Israel Nationwide Strike Ends

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)

In Israel, a five day general strike has come to an end with a tentative agreement between the country's main labor union and the government. Israel's Histadrut labor union declared victory with the agreement to end its general strike.

For the first time the Israeli government recognizes that it must negotiate with the workers before it makes decisions that might affect them -- like adjusting pensions or government allocations for families.

But the price of the five-day shutdown is being counted into the tens of millions of dollars. Israel's finance minister says some of the damage is irreparable. He referred to the blow to the tourism industry -- Israel's main foreign currency earner.

Thousands of tourists, winding up their trip to Israel and planning to go home, are finally getting out of here after the camping out at the strike-bound Israeli airport. Many say after this experience they are not coming back.

"Tourist on strike," read a T-shirt worn by a New York City man who was supposed to have flown out of Israel Thursday. Although his daughter lives in Jerusalem, he insisted he would "never return." "For a land of milk and honey, I'm going out with a sour taste."

The walkout, which began Wednesday, shut down the main international airport and seaports, banks, postal services, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and other businesses and services throughout the country.

The walkout was prompted in part by a Finance Ministry proposal to roll back an election eve pension agreement signed by the previous Labor government. Army Radio said negotiations on ways to honor the agreement would begin as soon as the workers returned to their jobs.

The labor court's back-to-work orders, which the Histadrut had previously ignored, covered most of more than 600,000 public sector workers who went on strike.

The orders did not apply to workers at Ben Gurion airport, where thousands of passengers were stranded, but it is expected union committees would take action to alleviate the situation there.

Earlier Sunday, strikers agreed to reopen Ben Gurion for 16 hours beginning in the afternoon, and El Al said it would operate 18 flights to the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Israeli Radio said more than 60,000 people in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv continue to be without phone service.

Electric and water services were interrupted. Kindergartens closed early. Gasoline station owners had said they would soon start running out of gas. In Tel Aviv, garbage piled up on the street and many automatic teller machines ran out of cash.

Israel's Army Radio said crowding was so bad that the airport, renowned for its extensive security checks, was forgoing baggage searches to get people onto flights more quickly.

The Israel Manufacturers Association said the strike -- the biggest stoppage in Israel for years -- cost the economy about $32 million a day.

French Rightist: Nazi Gas Chambers Were "Detail of History"

By IINS News Service

MUNICH, Germany - The leader of France's extreme right has reiterated his comment that Nazi gas chambers were "a detail of history." National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said he regretted that "honest people suffered" in Nazi death camps but that history books would relegate the gas chambers to a few lines.

More than 6 million people, the majority of them Jews, were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Outright denial of the Holocaust is a crime in Germany.

Le Pen made his comments at a news conference with the former leader of the German Republican Party, Franz Schoenhuber, who was a sergeant in Adolf Hitler's SS.

Both politicians called on Germany's extreme right to unite, and Schoenhuber hailed Le Pen's National Front as an example for Germany's right wing, consisting of small splinter groups that have been almost completely marginalized politically.

Le Pen caused a scandal in France in 1987, when he referred to the Holocaust as a "detail in history." A French Court later fined him a symbolic one franc, or less than 20 cents, for the remark.

Le Pen reiterated that remark in Germany on the same day that President Jacques Chirac turned over to a Jewish memorial center 150,000 files, which facilitated the deportation of 80,000 Jews during World War 2.

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