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Rerouted El Al Flight was Targeted by al-Qaeda

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A senior government or security official was on board the El Al flight that was diverted from Toronto to Montreal last week due to a "terror alert". According to a report in the Canadian Calgary Sun, al-Qaeda terrorists intended to target the plane due to the senior person on board. The report stated Mossad officials in Tel Aviv contacted Canadian security authorities a short time before the plane was due to land in Toronto, prompting the decision to divert to Montreal.


Sharon: Israel Ready For Negotiations At Any Time

By Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Thursday Israel was prepared to negotiate peace with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia as soon as he was ready. Israel had previously indicated that it would not talk with Qureia, as it was too closely associated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat.

Sharon, speaking at an economic forum in Tel Aviv, said that the absence of a top-level dialogue between the two sides was due to Palestinian reluctance. The comments could raise faint hopes for the U.S.-backed road map that intended to halt three years of bloodshed and pave the way to setting up a Palestinian state. But Palestinian officials dismissed the remarks as a ploy.

"We are maintaining dialogue with the Palestinians, although not on the level of prime minister," Sharon said. "The reason talks are not on a prime ministerial level is due to a Palestinian request to allow Prime Minister Abu Ala to gain strength. We are ready to start negotiations at any time. We are open to hold dialogue with any Palestinian government that will rule out incitement, terror and violence. I believe that we are at the brink of a new opportunity to find the way to quiet and peace."


Message from Iran Says Tehran Seeks Talks with Israel

By Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz Correspondent

Government sources are looking into a message from Iran that effectively says that Tehran wishes to open talks with Israel. Israel has asked a third party to make inquiries in Tehran and establish whether the message is serious.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom have been advised of the message, which was not delivered directly. Israel is deliberating whether the message is a sign of real change in Tehran. Iran agreed last week to freeze its uranium enrichment efforts and allow surprise inspections in its nuclear facilities. But Israeli sources say the Iranian activity is problematic and that the road to change still seems very long.

Sharon sees no signs of moderation in Iran, or modification in its hostility toward Israel and its support for terror groups. He suspects it is convenient for the Iranians to hint at possible flexibility because of other problems they are facing, and that their statements regarding the nuclear issue should be put to the test.


Historian: Nazi Army Included 150,000 Men of Jewish Descent

By Reuters

As many as 150,000 men of Jewish descent served in the German military under Adolf Hitler, some with the Nazi leader's explicit consent, a U.S. historian who has interviewed hundreds of former soldiers said on Thursday. Bryan Mark Rigg, history professor at the American Military University in Virginia, told Reuters that the issue of soldiers of partial Jewish descent was long a somewhat taboo subject, overlooked by most academics as it threw up thorny questions.

"Not everybody who wore a uniform was a Nazi and not every person of Jewish descent was persecuted," he said. According to the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, Jews or those of partial Jewish descent were unfit for military service, but Rigg tracked down and interviewed more than 400 former soldiers of partial Jewish descent - labeled "Mischlinge" ("half-caste") by the Nazis.

He estimated there were about 60,000 soldiers with one Jewish parent and 90,000 with a Jewish grandparent in the Wehrmacht, the regular army as distinct from the Nazi SS. "They thought 'if I serve well they're not going to hurt me and not going to hurt my family'," he said.

However, on returning home from the campaign in Poland at the start of the war to find persecution of their families worsening, many soldiers classified as half-Jewish started to complain, prompting Hitler to order their dismissal in 1940. But many of these so-called half-Jewish soldiers continued to serve, sometimes due to delays in the discharge order reaching the front, because they concealed their background or because they applied and won clemency for good service.

Many senior officers with Jewish ancestry won special permission to serve from Hitler himself. "History is not so black and white. History about Mischlinge shows how bankrupt the Nazi racial laws were," said Rigg.

While Germany has long been aware of men serving as soldiers who Nazi race laws should have classified as Jewish, most notably former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Luftwaffe Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Rigg's large estimate has surprised many.

Die Welt daily called Rigg's book "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers" "one of the most important Holocaust studies of recent years". The author was in Berlin to launch the German language version. "The Mischlinge suffered the same fate in academic life as they did in real life. There was nobody to speak for them," Rigg said. "People thought it could be misinterpreted, it would be like saying: 'look they did it to themselves'."

Rigg, who has served in the Marines and as a volunteer in the Israeli army, was moved to research the subject after he discovered his own Jewish ancestry while probing his family tree and after a chance meeting with a Jewish Wehrmacht veteran.

Many of his subjects were telling their story for the first time and in some cases their families knew nothing of their Jewish heritage. "They would talk their hearts out, telling me all about this schizophrenic story they went through," he said.

He is convinced that most of the soldiers of Jewish decent were not aware of the Nazis' systematic murder of Jews, noting that most half-Jews reported to deportation stations in 1944. "Most say they do not feel guilty about serving in the military, they feel guilty about what they didn't do to save their relatives," he said.


Hebrew U. Spielberg Jewish Film Archive Expands to Internet

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has completed a major upgrade and expansion of its "virtual cinema" project, which makes films from its collection available for Internet viewing. The five-year undertaking, is funded by the American Friends of the Hebrew University in Los Angeles. It began last year when the first 100 films went online. This year's additions bring the total to over 200 complete motion pictures that may be viewed by anyone with broadband access.

A number of technical improvements have been incorporated into the viewing experience. The size of the streaming image has been doubled, with a commensurate increase in quality. With the click of a button, PC and Macintosh users can enjoy full-screen Jewish documentary films. Access to the site is at: http://spielbergfilmarchive.org.il.

The archive has the world's largest collection of Jewish documentary films. A number of rare historical items are included in the latest additions to the "virtual cinema." These include the first newsreel with a Hebrew soundtrack and earliest known locally-made short animation film, both produced by pioneer filmmaker and artist Baruch Agadati; two War of Independence newsreels from 1948; a documentary on the Jewish Brigade made towards the end of World War II; and a color film showing kibbutz Deganya in the late 1930s.


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