Newsletter : 4fax0219.txt
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Dimona-Tel Aviv Line Next Year
Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that in January 2005, residents of
the southern city of Dimona will be able to travel to Tel Aviv in 40 minutes using the new
rail line currently under construction. Lieberman added the NIS 180 million project will
link up to the existing Be'er Sheva line in several locations, thereby simplifying the
project and lowering costs.
El Al Planes Due to Receive Anti-Missile System
Israel Aircraft Industries' Flight Guard anti-missile system for civilian airliners has
passed the development stage and is currently being installed on El Al passenger jets
according to a report by Globes.
El Al purchased the first systems from IAI subsidiary Elta Electronic Industries in
recent weeks according to the Globes report and the system is expected to be installed on
El Al's Boeing 767s within two months. The Defense Ministry, which is paying for the
purchase of the new systems, has budgeted 6 million shekels for El Al's initial purchase
of the systems. The estimated cost of one system is $700,000, which means that initially
two systems would probably be installed.
In recent years, the Elta defense system has been installed on 160 planes in 12
countries. Among other things, the system has been installed on the Israeli Air Force's
Blackhawk helicopters, cargo planes around the globe, and private jets for heads of
The push for the installation of the system on civilian aircraft intensified following
Al Qaida's unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Arkia Airlines passenger plane taking off
from the Mombassa Airport in Kenya in November 2002. Following the attempt, Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon ordered the Ministry of Defense to adapt the military defense system for
The scramble to neutralize the threat of shoulder launched surface-to-air missiles may
prove profitable for Israel's defense industries. The first operational system is taking
place only 18 months after development began and defense industry foresees great potential
for selling this product to defense systems in the global civil aviation market.
US Envoys in Israel for Disengagement Talks
By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)
Three senior U.S. envoys arrived in Israel Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon about his plan for unilateral disengagement from the Palestinian territories.
Sharon has said that if peace talks with the Palestinians do not yield results, Israel
would soon begin taking unilateral action. That, he indicated, would include dismantling
most of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and some in the West Bank.
The Prime Minister has provided few details of the disengagement plan, but it has
already stirred a heated debate among Israelis and Palestinians. Recent opinion polls show
that the majority of Israelis questioned favor giving up settlements as a step toward
peace. But, there is vehement opposition from settlers and from right-wing groups, who see
Sharon's proposals as outright betrayal.
Several hundred right-wing rabbis from the West Bank, Gaza and Israel met in Jerusalem
on Tuesday to denounce the disengagement plan as a sin and a crime against the Jewish
people. The statements were greeted with alarm by left-wing members of the Knesset, the
Israeli parliament, who said such pronouncements by Jewish religious leaders amount to
releasing the safety catch on a weapon.
The Palestinians are wary of Sharon's plan. They would certainly welcome any Israeli
pull-out from Palestinian areas, which they want as part of their future state. But, they
do not want unilateral dictates to replace peace negotiations and they fear that Sharon's
plan would result in de-facto borders, drawn by Israel.
The visiting American team, including Steve Hadley and Elliot Abrams from the National
Security Council and State Department envoy William Burns, will want to hear details from
Sharon about his plan. The Prime Minister will seek to calm American concerns by assuring
Washington that his unilateral actions will not undermine broader negotiations along the
lines of the Road Map peace plan, which Washington has endorsed.
Mughrabim Wall Collapse Attributed To Apathy
A problematic wall along the ascent to the Mughrabim Gate of the Temple Mount, adjacent
to the Western Wall Plaza, has been removed - but not the problems themselves.
Archaeologist Eilat Mazar said that the entire "hill" leading up to the Mughrabim Gate is shaky, and that the authorities have negligently ignored it over the years. A perfect view of the hill, gate, and former wall can be seen at www.kumah.org.
The wall began to crumble during the recent snowstorm in Jerusalem and following last
week's earthquake, and a crane operator was called in on Monday to totally remove the wall
so as not to endanger the female worshipers below (the men pray well to the left of the
area). Speaking with Arutz-7's Yosef Meiri, Mazar said that the lack of professional
archaeological treatment of the hill is symptomatic of a general negligence and apathy in
the entire area - as evidenced most clearly by the lack of an Israeli stand against the
Waqf's construction works on the Temple Mount.
Mazar has long warned of a collapse in the Temple Mount area. "The Mount is built atop
large underground caverns," she said. "Ever since the earthquake of 1927, when the
structure collapsed, no one has checked the status of the walls and the caverns. From the
outside can be seen worrisome signs such as cracks and bulges. The entire compound is
shaky... The refurbishing work that is supposedly going on is not serious - but at the
same time, though, the Muslim Waqf is continuing its works without any supervision."
Many Kosher Shoppers in New York are Poor, New Study Shows
A significant number of New York's poor live in religious neighborhoods and purchase
kosher food on a regular basis, a recently released study shows. This would seem to
indicate that the kosher industry needs to be concerned with an extremely price sensitive
According to the Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty, while poverty
among most groups throughout the U.S. appears to have declined during the last decade, the
level of poverty in Jewish households in the eight-county New York area has risen to
244,000 people, resulting in the highest level of Jewish poverty in the nation.
Ninety-three percent or 226,000 live in New York City where Jewish poverty has increased
to 21 percent of Jewish households.
Of the five boroughs, Brooklyn has the most severe Jewish poverty, with 156,200 people
or 30 percent of Jewish households. Queens is second highest at 42,700 or 19 percent of
Jewish households. In New York City, the largest numbers of poor or 60,000 (27 percent)
are in larger Orthodox Jewish households, all of who eat kosher. Others are
Russian-speaking persons under age 65, Russian-speaking persons over age 65, people with
disabilities and unable to work, the unemployed, and people with less than a college
In addition, the eight-county New York area contains many individuals living in
households where the economic status can be described as "near poor," with 104,000 people
living in 53,000 Jewish near poor households. About 20 percent of these are located in
Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties.
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