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Jewish Arab Scout Delegation Traveling to Buchenwald


A mixed Jewish - Arab delegation representing the Israel Scouts will be leaving for Germany on Monday where a memorial ceremony will be held in the Buchenwald death camp. According to Israel Scouting leader Lior Carmel, the mixed delegation is representative of the organization, the first integrated organization established in Israel, which today enjoys Jewish, Arab and Druze members.

Palestinian Gunmen Ambush Israeli Army Patrol, Killing 3

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian gunmen have ambushed an Israeli army patrol in the West Bank, killing three soldiers and wounding several others. The attack Sunday was the most serious of its kind in recent months against Israeli troops.

Israeli security officials said that Israeli soldiers were on foot patrol when they came under fire east of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Israel radio reported the Palestinian assailants detonated an explosive and threw grenades during the deadly ambush. The Israeli military immediately placed a curfew on the Jewish settlement of Ein Yarbrud, situated close to where the soldiers were targeted, as a search got underway for the attackers.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack. The ambush came just hours after Palestinians in Gaza fired homemade Kassam rockets at towns in the Negev area of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Israeli parliament, Rueven Rivlin, said that security was being strengthened around the Knesset in Jerusalem following intelligence that it has also become a prime target for Palestinian terrorist attacks. "We had some specific warnings and we know that all the time the terrorists are planning the possibility to hit the Knesset because it will bring them a lot of prestige," he said.

Israel Calls Up Hundreds of Reservists to West Bank, Gaza Strip Duty

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel is calling up hundreds of reserve soldiers to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, amid warnings that Palestinian groups are planning more terror attacks. Some of the five extra battalions of reserve soldiers will protect Israeli communities situated close to the West Bank. Others will be posted in the Jordan Valley and in the Gaza Strip.

An army spokeswoman says there is no alternative to the call-up, given the large number of warnings that Palestinians are planning to launch more suicide bombings and other terror attacks. The decision was announced as Israeli troops pulled out of a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Gaza, ending four days of operations, aimed at searching for tunnels allegedly used to smuggle weapons from Egypt. At least four Palestinian militants and four bystanders were killed, and 15 homes demolished in the latest raid into the Rafah refugee camp.

Shortly after the troop pullback, Palestinian militants in another part of Gaza fired at least eight homemade Kassam rockets Sunday at a town in the Negev area of Israel. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Meanwhile, three senior members of Palestinian chieftain Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement left for Washington Sunday for talks with officials and Congress members on arranging a truce with Israel.

Israel has ruled out reaching a ceasefire agreement, until the Palestinian leadership first dismantles and disarms Palestinian groups that carry out violent attacks.

Chirac Thwarts EU Condemnation of anti-Semitism


French President Jacques Chirac has thwarted a European Union condemnation of a strongly anti-Semitic speech by the Malaysian Prime Minister - and Israel is considering filing an official protest against France.

Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohammed, speaking at the Islamic Summit Conference (OIC) in his country last week, bemoaned the ineffectual and feeble state of Muslims and Arabs around the world, lacing his words with some of the most anti-Semitic statements sounded by a world leader in the past several decades. "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," he said. "There must be a way... We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." This statement was greeted by a standing ovation.

In the rush to condemn the Malaysian Prime Minister's overt anti-Semitism, however, some say that the speech's most important aspect was overlooked. Although Mahathir mentioned the problems and infighting of Muslims all over the world numerous times, he named only one place specifically - that which he called Palestine - and hinted at a scheme to resolve the issue once and for all.

He said, "For well over half a century we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before. If we had paused to think then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory... Remember that the Prophet did not have many followers when he went to Madinah. But he united the Ansars and the Muhajirins and eventually he became strong enough to defend Islam [a reference to the infamous Hudaibiyah treaty mentioned a few paragraphs earlier in the speech in which Muhammad 'consolidated his strength and eventually was able to enter Mecca and claim it for Islam' - ed. note]."

Mahathir further called for winning over the West: "We must not antagonize everyone. We must win their hearts and minds..." He said that suicide attacks do not serve their purpose: "We must not strengthen the enemy by pushing everyone into their camps through irresponsible and un-Islamic acts.

"[Our] counter-attack need not start only after we have put our houses in order. Even today we have sufficient assets to deploy against our detractors. It remains for us to identify them and to work out how to make use of them to stop the carnage caused by the enemy. This is entirely possible if we stop to think, to plan, to strategize and to take the first few critical steps... To do the things that are suggested will not even require all of us to give up our differences with each other. We need only to call a truce so we can act together in tackling only certain problems of common interests - the Palestine problem for example.

"In any struggle, in any war, nothing is more important than concerted and coordinated action. A degree of discipline is all that is needed. The Prophet lost in Jabal Uhud because his forces broke rank. We know that, yet we are unwilling to discipline ourselves and to give up our irregular and uncoordinated actions. We need to be brave but not foolhardy. We need to think not just of our reward in the afterlife but also of the worldly results of our mission.

"The Quran tells us that when the enemy sues for peace we must react positively. True the treaty offered is not favorable to us. But we can negotiate. The Prophet did, at Hudaibiyah. And in the end he triumphed... Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant... They are already beginning to make mistakes. And they will make more mistakes. There may be windows of opportunity for us now and in the future. We must seize these opportunities..."

1,208 Austrian Jewish Nazi Victims Receiving Nursing Care


Critically needed nursing care allowances worth $900,000 every month are being paid to 1,208 formerly Austrian Jewish victims of Nazi persecution as a result of a 2001 agreement with the Austrian government negotiated by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. In addition, several hundred Austrian Jews are receiving pensions due to the agreement.

The nursing allowances and pensions are benefits routinely granted to Austrian citizens, and the Claims Conference insisted they also be paid to Jews who were expelled from the country by the Nazis, fled for their lives, or left Austria after surviving the Holocaust.

Before the 2001 agreement was reached, Austrian Jews born between 1933 and 1938 and currently living abroad were not eligible for the nursing allowance benefits and pensions that had been negotiated in previous years for former Austrian Jews born by the end of 1932. The agreement entitled Austrian Holocaust survivors born between Jan. 1, 1933 and March 13, 1938 to the same rights as their older counterparts.

The benefits for those born between 1933 and 1938 are valued at approximately $100 million over 10 years and were a crucial issue in Holocaust restitution negotiations with Austrian government and business, which concluded Jan. 17, 2001 with a signing at the U.S. State Department. The value of individual nursing allowance payments depends on the recipient's level of need. The pensions average about $300 per month.

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