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Denmark Marked Holocaust Valor


Approximately 1,000 people showed up at Copenhagen's synagogue Tuesday night to mark 60 years since the Danish people displayed their mettle and organized to smuggle their Jewish compatriots out of Denmark during the Nazi occupation of the Scandinavian state. Nearly all of Denmark's 8,000 Jews survived the war in neutral Sweden thanks to the actions of their non-Jewish Danish neighbors in 1943. Queen Margrethe, government and parliament members, ambassadors from Sweden, Germany, Israel and the United States, and others attended the ceremony in the downtown synagogue.

Israel May Ease Restrictions on Palestinians

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel may begin easing restrictions on the Palestinian population after a month of closures and curfews in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Army Radio reported that Israel may soon begin to allow several thousand Palestinian workers and merchants back into Israel and that travel restrictions in Palestinian cities and towns and between communities would also be eased.

The Israeli military has put varying restrictions on the Palestinian territories since the outbreak of violence more than three years ago. Israel closed off the West Bank and Gaza and imposed curfews a month ago. The tight closures were imposed prior to the Jewish New Year holiday, because of fears of attacks, and have been extended since then.

Israeli media reports said Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has come under pressure from the upper echelons of the military to ease the plight of the Palestinians. Newspapers quoted military officers as saying that continuing tight closures do not enhance Israel's security, but rather increase hopelessness, desperation, and anger among Palestinians. And that, they say, strengthens militant groups and increases the risk of future attacks against Israelis.

Yediot Achronot quoted one unidentified officer as saying Israel was stingy with former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, by not being more forthcoming in easing restrictions and turning control of West Bank cities back over to the Palestinians.

When Abbas resigned in early September, he sharply rebuked Israel for having done nothing to move the fragile Roadmap peace plan ahead. Israeli military officers are now quoted as saying that Israel should not make the same mistake with the current Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.

Several newspapers talked about sharp criticism by military officers of the political establishment. Mofaz reportedly turned down a request last week by Army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon to begin easing the closures and blockades on Palestinian population centers. But when touring the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Mofaz told reporters the government wanted to take every step possible to ease the plight of the Palestinian population.

New Israeli Processor Computes at Speed of Light

By Reuters

Israeli start-up Lenslet has developed a processor that uses optics instead of silicon, enabling it to compute at the speed of light, the company said. adding that its processor would enable new capabilities in homeland security and military, multimedia and communications applications.

"Optical processing is a strategic competitive advantage for nations and companies," said Avner Halperin, vice president for business development at Lenslet. "Processing at the speed of light, you can have safer airports, autonomous military systems, high-definition multimedia broadcast systems and advanced next-generation communications systems."

An optical processor is a digital signal processor (DSP) with an optical accelerator attached to it that enables it to perform functions at very high speeds. "It is an acceleration of 20 years in the development of digital hardware," Lenslet founder and Chief Executive Officer Aviram Sariel told Reuters.

The processor performs 8 trillion operations per second, equivalent to a super-computer and 1,000 times faster than standard processors, with 256 lasers performing computations at light speed. It is geared towards such applications as high resolution radar, electronic warfare, luggage screening at airports, video compression, weather forecasting and cellular base stations.

Lenslet has raised $27.5 million so far from such investors as Goldman Sachs, Walden VC, Germany's Star Ventures and Chicago-based JKiB Capital. The prototype is fairly large and bulky but when Lenslet begins to supply the processor in a few months it will be shrunk to 15 x 15 cm with a height of 1.7 cm, roughly the size of a Palm Pilot. "In five years we plan to shrink it to a single chip," project manager Asaf Schlezinger said.

Changing the Face of the Country - Literally


Could earth cleared out to make room for a canal in the Negev be used to build an artificial island off the coast of Tel Aviv? If so, the Land of Israel may be undergoing a major face-lift in the coming decades.

For one thing, the Transportation, Infrastructures and Interior Ministries have embarked on the initial stages of project to move the large Pi Gelilot fuel facility to a not-yet-built offshore artificial island. The Interior Ministry publicized a request for proposals for a document outlining the ramifications of such a move.

The government decided last year to close the Pi Gelilot site and relocate the fuel facility elsewhere. The decision was made following two failed terrorist attempts to blow up Pi Gelilot in May and August 2002, which could have caused thousands of casualties. Infrastructures Minister Yosef Paritzky has said that he wants to relocate the facility on an artificial island - but the Cabinet has yet to approve the use of such an island for this purpose.

Another geographical change under consideration in government circles is the construction of a canal from the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Ashkelon, to the Red Sea port of Eilat. Israel's economic attaché in Taiwan, Danny Tal, heads a group that has sent a detailed proposal to the Finance and Infrastructures Ministers - and Netanyahu is said to have shown interest, contingent upon similar interest by foreign investors.

The 180-mile-long canal would present a competitive alternative to Egypt's Suez Canal, which cannot accept two-way traffic along its entire route and cannot accept tankers wider than 53 meters. Despite optimistic projections for growing maritime traffic between Europe and Asia, pessimists say that Egypt will never agree to an end to its monopoly on canal traffic.

Mideast Peace Failures Affect Ordinary Arabs and Jews

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Washington)

Three women from the Jerusalem area - a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim - are reaching across their own physical and psychological barriers to speak out about the impact of the collapsed peace talks on ordinary Israelis and Palestinians.

Their U.S. tour is organized by an American non-government organization, Partners for Peace that promotes a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. English teacher Mai Nassar, who is a Palestinian Christian, lives in the Palestinian village of Beit Jala, which is normally about a 15-minute drive from Jerusalem. She works at nearby Bethlehem University. Life these days, she says, is like living in a prison without cells.

"We can't go anywhere," she said. "We're locked inside. If we want to go to visit a relative on the other side of the town, we have to cross a checkpoint or go another route. To move from Beit Jala to Jerusalem you need a permit. So I haven't entered Jerusalem for three years."

Israeli anthropologist Yehudit Keshet says there are many Israelis who choose to deny Palestinian suffering but she adds there are many who do not. "People know. As I said, their sons, their brothers, their fathers, my son serves in the army. They're doctors in hospitals where the wounded are brought sometimes," she said. Keshet says her work with Checkpoint Watch also has opened her eyes to the daily plight of ordinary Palestinians. Shet helped establish the non-government group that monitors the actions of Israeli soldiers at checkpoints around Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Both women acknowledge that continued Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military operations against suspected Palestinian radicals have weakened the voice of the peace camps on both sides.

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