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An E-Mail Letter to Help Israel:


"I came back from Israel two weeks ago after not having visited in seven years. I was shocked by the poverty all around me - the closed shops and restaurants in downtown Tel Aviv, the unemployment, the stories of hunger and hopelessness. Living in the Diaspora, we all have the power to help. Every time you go to the supermarket, buy at least one Israeli product... There are 200,000 Jews in Canada. If everyone bought an Israeli product every two weeks, that would be around $200,000 making it to the desperate economy every few weeks just from Canada. If the idea caught on with American Jews, that could be $5.2 million every couple of weeks. So, even if it you don't need it, if it is more expensive than a Canadian or American product, if it looks less appetizing than its North American counterpart, buy it and help Israel.

Unofficial Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan to be Signed Monday

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

Hundreds of Israeli, Palestinian and international supporters of an unofficial Middle East peace initiative known as the Geneva Accords, are expected to attend a signing ceremony on Monday. Between 300 and 400 Israeli and Palestinian supporters of the Geneva Accords were flying into Geneva on so-called peace flights. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will be one of several distinguished guests scheduled to speak at the signing ceremony. The Swiss government is paying much of the affair, including the flight for reporters from Israel and the PA, for.

Former MK Yossi Beilin, the prime mover of the Geneva "agreement" formulated by several left-wing MKs and others, says that the event will not be a signing - as the document was already signed two months ago.

Syria has come out against the Geneva document, but a representative of the Saudi Arabian kingdom will be on hand. Many PA organizations, such as the Al Aqsa Brigades, are against the document, and shots were even fired over the weekend at the home of one of its supporters, Yasser Abed Rabbo. Two key Palestinian Authority officials who were instrumental in the formulation of the document - Kadoura Fares and Mohammed Horani - have canceled their participation in the ceremony, the Saudi Press Agency reported, raising still more doubts about the PA public's support for the document.

The Geneva Accords, which were negotiated in secret over the past two years, have generated bitter debate. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejects the initiative as free-lance diplomacy that is damaging to Israel. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat welcomes it, as do Secretary of State Colin Powell and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The Geneva Accords deal with so-called taboo issues. Like the internationally supported "road map" to peace, this initiative envisages a two-state solution; but it goes further in calling for the dismantling of most Israeli settlements, and it would split Jerusalem into two capitals.

The Palestinian side agreed to waive the right of return to Israel by millions of Palestinian refugees. In exchange, the Israeli side says it would grant sovereignty to the Palestinians over a Jewish holy site, the Temple Mount.

A former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, agreed that the initiative would not succeed without official government backing. But she said public opinion is important and can have a political momentum of its own.

Sharon Peace Initiative Faces Opposition from Israeli Army

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is reportedly in disagreement with top Israeli army commanders over his plan to take unilateral action if peace talks with the Palestinians break down. At the heart of the dispute is whether Israel should evacuate Jewish settlements in the absence of a peace agreement.

Israeli media reported Sunday that Sharon's recent hints about the possible dismantling of Jewish communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have not found favor with Israel's top general. According to the reports, the head of the Israeli Defense Forces, General Moshe Ya'alon, has expressed strong opposition in private to the proposals.

Ya'alon said he would support the evacuation of Jewish settlements only as part of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians, according to Ha'aretz on Sunday. He was reacting to Sharon's statements last week that, if the next round of peace negotiations ends in failure, he would consider what he called unilateral steps to end the conflict with the Palestinians.

Sharon said that Israel could not remain forever in all areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli officials told reporters this could be taken to mean that Sharon is weighing the possibility of evacuating some Jewish settlements and withdrawing troops from parts of the territories.

The future of the Jewish settlements has become an emotive issue with Sharon's Cabinet. At the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, the justice minister, Yosef Lapid, sharply criticized Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz for what Lapid said was a lack of progress in dismantling new Jewish outposts established without government approval.

Lapid said Israel is losing the battle for world support over the settlements issue, and is even facing a rift with its main ally, the United States. Mofaz responded that the Israeli army had removed at least 43 illegal Jewish outposts, and that more would be dismantled in the near future.

Israeli Company Developing Alzheimer's Vaccine

By Israel Faxx News Services

An Israeli company has received a patent for the first vaccine against Alzheimer's disease. reported that CEO of Mindset Bio-Pharmaceuticals, Daniel Chain, announced his company's progress at the Society of Neuroscience Meeting in New Orleans. He pointed out that preliminary studies carried out by the company indicate that Mindset's vaccine may not cause the side effects that led Elan Corp. and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories to stop an advanced stage clinical trial for their Alzheimer's vaccine in March 2002.

Alzheimer's disease continues to be a major incurable medical condition. It is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects approximately 8 million people, with the number rising dramatically with an increasing elderly world population.

Despite the disappointment of the vaccine being found to cause adverse side effects, post-trial analysis of the data has shown that the vaccine was quite effective. "A recent paper in a leading journal, Neuron, describes the lack of cognitive decline after one year in 20 patients receiving the Elan vaccine," noted Cheryl Fitzer-Attas, Mindset`s Vice President for Research & Development, as reported by "This underscores the clinical promise for this type of treatment strategy."

"Mindset`s technology potentially addresses several major safety concerns for developing a vaccine to beta-amyloid, a protein which is naturally present in the brain and other tissues," said Chain. "These concerns include neurotoxicity of the native protein and difficulties in inducing an antibody response in elderly patients."

With regard to another major safety concern - the potential of Alzheimer's vaccines to induce an adverse autoimmune response - Mindset also offers good news. "In a related discovery, we have found out how to anticipate and also reduce the possibility for this undesirable reaction," said Fitzer-Attas.

The vaccine is still in the pre-clinical stage and is unlikely to enter clinical trials before 2006, according to Chain.

"The vaccine will be first tried in healthy elderly volunteers in Phase I trials before it can be tested in Alzheimer's patients (Phase II)," he said. "The Phase I trials would be expected to take about a year to complete before Phase II can start. We can safely assume at least seven or eight years before the vaccine could be approved by the FDA for general treatment.

Given, the failure of a previous Alzheimer's vaccine trial that was sponsored by Wyeth and Elan Pharmaceuticals and terminated prematurely because of safety issues, the challenge will be to demonstrate safety. We believe Mindset's approach is potentially much safer but it will be necessary to carry out extensive safety testing in animals and then healthy humans before proceeding to patients."

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