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Orthodox U.S. Rabbi: Eating Kosher May Protect Against Mad Cow

By Israel Faxx News Services

Rabbi Menachem Genack, administrator of the kashrut (kosher) division of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, said that eating beef certified by rabbis might help protect consumers against mad cow disease, though they acknowledge there's no guarantee kosher beef is safer. Kosher slaughtering tries to be humane by instantaneously severing the animal's trachea and esophagus with a razor-sharp blade. However, Genack acknowledged, kosher rules provide no absolute guarantee for consumers. For instance, kosher animals receive the same feed and come from the same herds as non-kosher ones.

Turkey Offers to Mediate Between Israel, Syria

By Amberin Zaman (VOA-Ankara)

Turkey has offered to act as a mediator between Syria and its archenemy, Israel, in a bid to end decades of hostility between the two Middle Eastern neighbors. Turkey made the offer to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is on a historic visit to Turkey.

Turkish officials quoted by the private NTV television news channel said Israel is eager for Turkey to play a mediating role to help rebuild relations with Syria. A message to that effect was relayed to top Turkish diplomats last week by Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Pinhas Avivi.

Syria and Israel are still officially at war, although they have not exchanged fire for years. Still tensions have mounted in recent months amid Israeli claims that Syria is training and harboring Islamic terrorists. Israeli warplanes attacked what Israeli officials called a terrorist training camp in Syria in November. And on Wednesday Israel's chief of staff, General Moshe Ya-alon, warned that Israel may strike Syria again if it failed to withdraw its support for international terrorism.

Assad, who is the first Syrian head of state to ever visit Turkey, has so far not responded to the Turkish offer to host peace talks with the Jewish state. But analysts said Turkey is well placed to bring the two sides together. Turkey is Israel's sole regional ally. The recent thaw in Turkey's relations with Syria, reflected by Assad's visit, termed historic by officials on both sides, means that Turkey has an open channel to Damascus as well.

Libya, Israel Downplay Reports of Diplomatic Contacts

By Ha'aretz

One day after media reports of discrete diplomatic contacts between Israeli and Libyan officials, the two governments worked to downplay enthusiasm and expectations from such relations.

Prime Minster Ariel Sharon said Wednesday that "there is no reason to run" into such relations with Libya. During a briefing with Knesset reporters, Sharon said, "after all, we know who [Libyan President Muammar] Gadhafi is. Why are we running? I heard that President [George] Bush said he would not remove sanctions until Libya acted on its words [to disarm]," and added that "If this had been said in Israel, it would be written that we are refusing a chance for peace, and that we are warmongers."

Tripoli denied Wednesday any contacts between Israeli and Libyan officials, shortly after Labor Knesset member Ephraim Sneh confirmed a Ha'aretz report that he and Shinui legislator Ilan Shalgi met earlier this year with Gadhafi's son. Sneh said that the Libyan leader could go as far as to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

But in Libya, Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassouna al-Shawish denied that any meetings had taken place, according to the official Libyan news agency JANA. "We would like to assert that officials in Libya have investigated this issue and have not found any evidence of it. International relations are not built on intrigue."

Sneh's remarks came as the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem launched a diplomatic initiative to develop ties with Libya. The initiative followed the announcement by Gadhafi that his country is scrapping its weapons of mass destruction.

Foreign Ministry official Ron Prosor departed for Paris late last month to meet with an Arab official and investigate the possibility of establishing ties with Tripoli. Prosor did not propose the establishment of formal ties or the formulation of a peace treaty; the goal was merely to open an initial channel of dialogue with Libya.

Sneh on Wednesday told Israel Radio of an August meeting between Israelis, Palestinians, and the Libyan leader's son and heir apparent. "My impression from this meeting was that Gadhafi has made a strategic decision, and he is not a man of small steps," Sneh said of the Libyan leader.

"He will not stop halfway. He could go as far as relations with Israel, and beyond. My impression from speaking to Gadhafi the son, who is said to be his intended heir, is that they are beginning to tour the world, to examine this modern world that they wish to join."

Telemarketer Hires Hundreds of New Olim


A small telecommunications call-center in Jerusalem has developed in only 18 months into a provider of jobs for hundreds of new English-speaking immigrants to Israel.

The Jerusalem company, Customer Service Management (CSM), is a daughter company of and a main telephone-information center for American-based IDT Corp. IDT founder and chairman Howard Jonas, an observant Jew from Riverdale in the Bronx, decided in July 2002 to "share the wealth" with Israel's struggling economy while providing employment for a small number of new immigrants (olim) as well. What began at the time as a small-scale 30-person project servicing IDT customers has now become a 24-hour-a-day business employing 400 workers at the Har HaHotzvim Industrial Park in northern Jerusalem.

CSM Director of Human Resources Deena Porat explained that the educational level of CSM employees is much higher than average for this type of work: "While a college degree is not a requirement for the job, many of the people we hire are college-educated new immigrants. That's the strength of Jerusalem."

CSM continues to advertise for new employees, and resumes can be submitted via email to Winnie Coopersmith, a new immigrant from upstate New York, started working at CSM a month ago. "In opening this call center," said Coopersmith, "IDT has provided a safety net for hundreds of idealistic immigrants who either need an extra source of income or want to know that there is a job waiting for them when they arrive at their new home."

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