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Temple Mount Tour Guide Course Offered


A senior officer in the Jerusalem Police Department reports that ever since the opening of the Temple Mount to Jews four months ago, some 10,000 people have visited the holy site - including 4,000 who have done so according to Halakhic [Jewish legal] guidelines. In light of the growing demand, the "El Har HaMor" Temple Mount organization is sponsoring a course for Temple Mount tour guides. The course instructs tour guides how to lead groups at the holy site within the boundaries of halakhah [Jewish law], guided by rabbinical rulings on the matter.

Sharon Starts Preparations for Relocating Gaza Settlers

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday that he has begun preparations for the removal of 17 Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip. Sharon said the plan is part of a long-term vision in which he believes no Jews would remain in the territory. Sharon said the planned removal of 17 settlements is just the first phase of a broader plan, under which all of the estimated 7,500 Jews in the Gaza Strip would be relocated.

The prime minister, speaking at a meeting of his Likud Party, said he is, working on the assumption that in the future there would not be any Jews remaining in Gaza. He gave no timetable for the implementation of his plan. According to Sharon, the first step would be to ask for the backing of the settlers, some of who, he says, are third-generation residents of the territory.

He said he would ask the settlers to voluntarily relocate to areas inside Israel and those with farms would be re-established in agricultural areas. He did not say what the government would do if the settlers refused to leave the area of their own free will.

Sharon said the 17 settlements earmarked under the first phase of the plan are those Israel has decided it would not want to keep even under a final peace agreement with the Palestinians. He said he has ordered officials to start preparing for the relocation of the residents.

He told Ha'aretz that he intends to present his plan to President George Bush later this month during a visit to Washington. He said that one of the issues he intends to raise with Bush is the possibility of the U.S. administration providing financial support for the evacuation of Jewish settlements.

At least one Knesset Member of the Likud, Ehud Yatom, said that he would prefer to go to new elections - i.e., topple his own party's government - rather than support such a plan. Sharon acknowledged that his plan would not be easy to implement: "We are talking of a population of 7,500 people. It's not a simple matter. We are talking of thousands of square kilometers of hothouses, factories and packing plants. People there who are third-generation. The first thing is to ask their agreement, to reach an agreement with the residents. To move thousands of dunams of hothouses, educational institutions, thousands and thousands of vehicles - it's not a quick matter, especially if it's done under fire."

'New Information' on Ron Arad Proves Sterile


Dramatic reports about possible remains of missing navigator Ron Arad are sweeping Israel - while still leaving much confusion in their wake. It was reported Monday that a number of weeks ago, Hizbullah sent one or several bone fragments to Israel, apparently belonging to Arad. After careful checking, however, Israeli experts reached the conclusion that "most of them" do not belong to Ron Arad. It is possible that the tests have not been completed yet.

Arad's Phantom jet was shot down in Lebanon in October 1986; the pilot was flown to safety under fire, holding on to the bottom of an Israeli helicopter in a spectacular rescue operation. Arad, however, parachuted down and was immediately captured by members of the Amal militia. He was transported to Beirut and held by an extreme Shiite organization, and was later sold to Iranian-backed forces.

Israel reportedly feels that Hizbullah sent the wrong remnants as an "honest mistake." Israel is further encouraged about Iran's active, if hidden, role in the process. It has long been believed that Arad has been held in Iran.

The prisoner/hostage deal that most people thought had been completed last week actually has two more parts. In the first of the two, Hizbullah is to provide Israel with definite information about Ron Arad, in exchange for the release of Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, the murderer of the Haran family in 1979. In the last part of the deal, Israel and Hizbullah are to enter into negotiations for the return of Ron Arad, dead or alive. Israel is also expected to provide information on four Iranian diplomats who were apparently killed in Lebanon 20 years ago; Israel says it has no further information on them.

The Importance of Israel

By Roy Sasson (Commentary) (University of Florida)

I was born in Israel, and moved to the states at the young age of six. I've gone back to visit several times since, however my most recent trip allowed me to look at Israel through a completely different perspective.

Over the past two weeks, I embarked on a memorable trip that has left an imprint in my life. Eighty students including myself from some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S...were invited to attend a trip to Israel to educate us in respect to the technology and business within the country. My expectation was simply 'another free trip to Israel.' I had no idea what I was in for.

Prior to the trip, my perception was that Israel was practically a 3rd world country way behind its time, only a source of violence and turmoil. I saw first hand that Israel is in fact one of the major reasons as to why our modern world has become what it is today. Our trip was comprised of visits to top notch Universities, biotechnology companies, an aircraft development company, the stock exchange, meetings with venture capitalists, economists, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and prestigious professors. Some of the brightest students today had the opportunity to listen, interact, and most importantly question, some of the most amazing developments in technology.

We witnessed these developments first hand, and got a chance to have them explained, not by their low level representatives, but by the actual scientists, professors, and business men themselves, and I have to say, it was nothing short of inspiring.

Let's just list the facts. Eighty percent of biotechnology in the entire world comes from Israel... I'm talking about technologies that will revolutionize the world. One such account was a biotechnology company who will in three months time be approved by the FDA to perform operations to remove tumors without even penetrating the skin! The new mobile centrino processor, a technology developed in Israel, powers every laptop that you use from now on. A 3D face recognition technology was recently developed here (to combat terrorism) that is so sophisticated it can tell apart identical twins.

Teva Pharmaceuticals developed the most effective drug to counter Parkinson's disease. Israel is home to a pill that when taken, captures images inside of the body. File formats such as gif and zip files that you use everyday, developed here. Smart cards for credit cards, the chips in your digital cameras. It is in large part due to Israel that the internet is where it is today. Many of the problems that we were facing on the internet in regards to communication, bandwidth, and security, had already been implemented in the Israeli army. The first Instant messaging software, the first firewall...the list is endless...

Israel is the world leader in environmental research, high-tech, and the arts... Not surprisingly, over 50 percent of Israel's economy is driven by technology. There are various reasons for this; their local market is only 6 million... So when they develop these companies, technologies, and advances, they are built with the hopes and aspirations of making a difference in the world. It is a country where the entrepreneur has become the hero, and making an impact on the world is not uncommon.

Israel is a country built around art and education. When an Israeli is successful it does not simply affect his household, but the entire country, bringing up the economy, honor to the country, and a strong sense of pride. Just imagine if our capitalist society was focused on building companies and technologies to make a difference in the world, instead of making a difference in our pockets. Imagine the possibilities with an educational system enforcing the idea that you, the young and bright, can make a difference in the world, in a country where we do not have to worry about violence and terror as Israel does to maintain its survival.

One professor told of us of a story of a child who asked his father, serving in the Israeli Army "why do you fight?" His father answered," I fight today so that your generation will have the opportunity to learn and be educated so that you may be engineers, so that the generation that follows yours may live to be poets and artists."

I wasn't told to write this, and I'm not exactly the most eloquent of speakers. I am writing this because I see it as my responsibility, privileged enough to have experienced these things first hand. I tell you all of this not to show you the importance of Israel from a Jewish perspective, but to show you the importance of Israel as part of the human race.

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