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>Israel Faxx
>JN July 3, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 116

Yad Vashem Going Online

By IsraelWire

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum plans to make its Holocaust archives available online. The "Yad Vashem 2001" project includes a master plan to modernize the museum which now hosts about 1.5 million guests annually. Museum directors envision multimedia programs that will provide online access to much of its 50 million document, 250,000 photo archive, as well as providing materials for educational purposes. The total "Yad Vashem 2001" will cost about $12 million according to museum officials.

Swiss Banks Say Bank Sanctions Threaten U.S. Ties

By IsraelWire and Israel Faxx Staff Report

Threats by U.S. cities and states to boycott Swiss banks over their handling of Holocaust victims' accounts could disrupt U.S.-Swiss relations and trigger a free-trade dispute, the Berne government said Thursday.

Swiss banks meanwhile mulled whether to revoke a blanket offer of $600 million to settle Holocaust-era claims a day after local U.S. finance officials stepped up pressure for a deal by giving a green light to punitive sanctions against banks.

"These kinds of sanctions are counterproductive, unjustified and illegal," the Swiss Federal Council, or cabinet, said in a statement. "They constitute a danger to the good bilateral relations between Switzerland and the United States."

Swiss bank officials are contemplating filing law suits against US cities and states which choose to participate in the boycott on behalf of Holocaust victims seeking to reach a settlement for confiscated assets during World War 2. The lawyers for the Holocaust victims maintain that banks withheld their wealth after World War 2, a spokesman for one bank said Thursday.

According to Reuters, sanctions proposed by US state and local treasurers could also prompt big Swiss banks to withdraw their $600 million offer to settle the thorny issue with Holocaust victims and Jewish groups, Credit Suisse Group's Ulrich Pfister said.

"We have not made any decisions yet, of course, but we will now consider steps...that could go as far as lawsuits. The question of what will happen with the (settlement) offer being negotiated is open," he said.

Peeved that US-brokered settlement talks had hit a dead end, US finance officials paved the way for punitive sanctions against Swiss banks at a meeting in New York on Wednesday. California immediately announced it would cut off new business with Swiss banks, and other states seemed set to follow suit.

The Holocaust survivors who have put forward a figure of $1.5 billion rejected a Swiss offer of a $600 million settlement.

Tichon's $300,000 Menorah

By IsraelWire

Knesset Speaker Dan Tichon plans to move ahead with what he believes will be the most popular attraction in Israel, a $300,000 84 foot tall 45-foot wide menorah atop the Knesset building.

Tichon said Jerusalem has not seen such a sight since the First Temple. The menorah will resemble the one in the Temple, with seven branches. A large Magen David (Star of David) will back the menorah, which will be a replica of the menorah displayed in the Knesset garden. The menorah is scheduled to be displayed beginning on Tu B'Shvat (Jan. 22, 2000) for one-year.

Israel Acquires 3 Nuclear Subs from Germany

By IsraelWire

According to the Washington Times, Israel's navy has ordered three submarines capable of firing missiles armed with nuclear warheads, as a step to deter the use of nuclear weaponry by its neighbors.

The first of the three is already being tested in the North Sea, between Germany and Britain. According to Pentagon sources, all three will be delivered to Israel by year's end. The Pentagon added the vessels are among the most advanced in the world, weighing in at 1,700 tons, about twice the weight of the submarines that have been in service for the past 20-years in the naval fleet.

The report added that this is another phase in the Israeli attempt to arm itself against the realistic nuclear threat that exists in the region. The report goes on to explain that to date, Israel might be rendered defenseless against a nuclear attack that struck its nuclear launching facility, but with the addition of the submarines to the fleet, Israel would also have the ability to launch a nuclear attack via the sea.

The report concludes that Israeli intelligence resources estimate Iran will complete its nuclear program and be ready to launch nuclear weapons in the next five-seven years.

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