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Nationwide Open-Ended Strike Begins Tuesday Morning


The Histadrut national labor union has stepped in, ordering all union affiliated clerks and local government employees to walk off the job beginning Tuesday morning. This includes the nation's large cities, which have refrained from joining the local government strike to date. The open-ended strike will impact garbage collection, clerical services, kindergarten assistants, school security and maintenance personnel, school security guards and more. The impact will be felt in all cities and municipalities. While schools are not striking, many schools will be compelled to close if alternative security and sanitation arrangements are not made.

Al-Hayat: Al-Qaeda Has Tactical Nuke

By Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)

Al-Qaida has possessed tactical nuclear weapons for about six years; the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Sunday. The Arabic daily reported that sources close to Al-Qaida said Osama bin Laden's group bought the nuclear weapons from Ukrainian scientists who were visiting Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1998. The report has not been confirmed.

However, the sources said Al-Qaida doesn't intend to use the weapons against American forces in Muslim countries, "due to the serious damage" it could cause. But that decision is subject to change, the sources said, if Al-Qaida "is dealt a serious blow that won't leave it any room to maneuver."

The possibility of detonating the nuclear devices on American soil was also raised in the report, although no details were given. The sources were quoted as saying that Al-Qaida activists have hidden the weapons - each of which is about the size of a suitcase - in "a safe place."

Several reports of the nuclear arsenal in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s indicated that a few dozen nuclear explosive devices had disappeared. One of the theories was that the devices disappeared in Ukraine, which claims that it handed over all its nuclear weapons to Russia.

Sharon Undergoes Medical Procedure, May Delay U.S. Trip

By Mazal Mualem (Ha'aretz)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon underwent treatment to remove stones in his urinary tract on Monday evening. The procedure, carried out at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, was a success, Army Radio reported. Sharon will spend Tuesday recuperating. He will return to the hospital later in the week for a check up and will then return to a full schedule. The office said doctors used ultrasonic waves to break up the stones.

Sharon's planned visit to the United States in March may be postponed due to the prime minister's health, Israel Radio reported Monday. White House NSC emissaries Steve Hadley and Elliot Abrams have postponed their visit to prepare for Sharon's Washington visit, the radio said.

Sharansky: Israel is in This Together With Pollard


Minister Natan Sharansky, who sat in Soviet prison for his Zionist activities for close to a decade, discussed his recent visit with Jonathan Pollard on Arutz-7.

"My wife and I visited [last week] with Jonathan and his wife - who now lives not far from the prison - for about two hours," Sharansky said. "For someone who has been in prison for over 18 years, he maintains his intellectual level quite well, but at the same time, every month and every day becomes harder and harder for him to be there. He is waiting for a miracle, just waiting to get out. His neighbors are all criminal convicts, and there is an atmosphere of violence; he has to protect his cell all the time. There is much noise, and if he wants to read - when he is not doing his job of washing windows - he has to put on earmuffs...

"What he needs," Sharansky said, "is to know that Israel is doing whatever it can for him. Jonathan emphasized that he feels that he is a minority within a minority within a minority - a Jew, an Israeli, and a spy. When he sees that he is forgotten, it hurts him. For instance, in the recent hostage exchange ceremony, they read off the names of the other Israeli prisoners, and didn't even mention him - and this hurt him very much."

Arutz-7's Emanuel Shilo asked, "Why do you think they didn't read his name - so as not to embarrass the Americans?"

Sharansky responded, "Sometimes we think that we can help him better if we don't anger the Americans, but there is no doubt that this is a mistake. But something even more blatant is that there are no regular visits from our consul or ambassador; I spoke with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and I hope that now this will be taken care of. It's obvious that if they know that we're following the situation, they will treat him better."

Sharansky then discussed what can be done to further the cause of Pollard's release: "In this case, as opposed to with Soviet refuseniks, it is fairly hard to enlist public opinion, as many people there feel that he committed very terrible crimes against the United States... On the other hand, however, the State of Israel is in on this together with Pollard, and sent him to carry out this mission. Whatever was done - whether it was a crime or a great achievement - Pollard and Israel did it together, and we therefore have to take a much more active role... We must also enlist public opinion in Israel on behalf of Pollard."

Passion Play Expert Talks About Controversy Surrounding Movie Israel Faxx News Service

Whether it's a Mel Gibson production or a local church group producing a Passion play, a Purdue University expert who studies anti-Semitic messages says it's important to be thoughtful about the message on screen or stage.

"Over the centuries there have been many stage productions of Jesus' Passion, his suffering, during his last week on earth," says Gordon R. Mork, professor of history and Jewish studies who has studied German history and Passion plays. "In the 20th century the Passion play moved from stage to screen, but none have generated such controversy and speculation as Gibson's production."

"The Passion of Christ," which opens Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, has generated controversy due to what some critics and Jews have feared is anti-Semitic messages. Mork can talk about what four things viewers should watch for, especially if a particular drama is accused of anti-Semitic bias.

"Are there claims that the Passion play or film is exactly what's in the Bible?" Mork says. "The Bible is not a film script. Inevitability any production is a creative interpretation, so there should be cause for concern if anyone markets their production as anything other than an interpretation.

"Does the presenter show the Jews as collectively guilty for Jesus' suffering and death?" he said. "Historically, it was the oppressive and militaristic power of Rome, represented by Pontius Pilate, who tortured and crucified Jesus. Overall, it's important to ask how does a production explain the events that led to Jesus' death," Mork says. "Does it put the blame on a particular group or try to define who are the good and bad guys?"

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