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Survey: 70% of Israelis Keep Kosher Home


Despite reports of a growing non-kosher food trade in Israel, 70% of Israelis, including 41% who classify themselves as non religious, say they keep a strictly kosher home. 30% of secular Israelis say that they eat only at kosher restaurants. The new survey released to coincide with the coming Passover season, shows that of Israelis who label themselves as "traditional," 97% say they keep a kosher home and 91% say that they eat only at kosher restaurants when they dine out. In general, 60% of Israelis say that they eat kosher when eating out.

Senior Arafat Advisor Shot Dead in Gaza

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Unidentified gunmen have shot and killed a senior advisor to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in Gaza. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, and no suspects have been arrested. Khalil al-Zaben was leaving his office in Gaza City in the early morning hours when he was gunned down. Arafat called the murder of his long-time advisor a dirty assassination and convened an urgent meeting of the Palestinian leadership to discuss the issue.

Al-Zaben was well known as an Arafat loyalist. He was also a publisher and headed a human rights group funded by the Palestinian Authority. He had recently condemned the actions of rival militia gangs as the work of professional killers and assassins. Some Palestinian officials have said those comments would certainly have made him enemies.

His murder is seen as a direct challenge to Arafat's authority and has renewed concern about growing lawlessness and political infighting in the Palestinian areas. There have been numerous reports of armed men forcing their way into offices and of gun battles between rival militia gangs.

In one incident recently, rival groups engaged in a shootout at the Gaza police headquarters. Then, last week, armed men briefly occupied the offices of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in Gaza. Palestinian journalists have called for the authorities to investigate recent attacks against them as well.

Analysts find the incidents troubling because there are several groups involved in these incidents. Palestinian sociologist Nader Sayid of Birzeit University in Ramallah, said the recent attacks are signs of a society that has lost confidence in its institutions. Sayid blames more than three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and the resulting rise in unemployment and poverty.

"There is the part which has to do with the suffering Palestinians are facing and the loss of hope for the future, and the loss of direction, especially among the youth who are unable to see where is this society going and what are the common values and what are the common objectives," he said. He added that more attention must be paid to social problems and issues or there will be more violence and chaos.

Report: Israel Knew of Iran's Nukes

By, Ha'aretz & United Press International

An Israeli intelligence unit cracked an Iranian code and was aware of the purchase of nuclear arms components from Pakistan, the New Yorker said Tuesday. The report said a number of years ago, the Israeli signals-intelligence agency, known as Unit 8200, broke a sophisticated Iranian code and began monitoring communications that included talk between Iran and Pakistan about Iran's growing nuclear-weapons program.

According to the report, the investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency into Iranian nuclear capability was spurred by Israeli intelligence findings that were relayed to the atomic agency via the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The magazine's reporter, Seymour Hersh, who writes about nuclear and intelligence issues, reported that the Israeli signals intelligence agency, known as Unit 8200, monitored the transmission after breaking the sophisticated Iranian code.

According to the report, Unit 8200's monitored senior officials in Tehran and Islamabad having frequent conversations regarding the IAEA investigations, which were also shared with U.S. intelligence services. A senior Israeli intelligence officer in Tel Aviv who has access to the secret Iran-Pakistan contacts said Israel remains convinced "the Iranians do not intend to give up the bomb."

"What Iran did was report to the IAEA the information that was already out in the open and which they cannot protect. There is much that is not exposed," the official said.

The New Yorker report said, "The Israeli intelligence community has many covert contacts inside Iran, stemming from the strong ties it had there before the overthrow of the Shah, in 1979; some of these ties still exist." According to the report, the U.S. ignored the fact that Pakistan was smuggling nuclear weapons parts to Iran, Libya and North Korea, because Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf helped the Americans in the struggle against terror.

Israel Studies´ Debut on U.S. Campuses


Brandeis University is the latest college to open a department for Israel Studies in the United States. Many hail the development as a sign of the growing interest in the study of Israel on American campuses.

Professor Ilan Troen, originally a professor at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, was recently appointed to the new Karl, Harry and Helen Stoll Chair in Israel Studies at Brandeis University. Brandeis now joins the Taub center for modern Israel studies at New York University, and departments at universities such as Emory University in Atlanta, University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Toronto.

The Brandeis chair, the first-ever endowed chair in Israel Studies, was created "to develop an accurate historical understanding of the origin and development of the state of Israel and its place in the world."

"From the time the first modern Jews came to settle the land, they produced more literature about themselves per capita than any one - diaries, celebration books marking the anniversaries of their settlement," Troen, who comes to Brandeis after 27 years in Israeli academia at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev told "Every town, every settlement, has recorded its history, both formally, and informally through diaries and letters. There was the sense they were engaged in something meta-historical and it needed to be recorded, not unlike the early pioneers in colonial America. President Chaim Weizmann once wrote to President Truman that 'Israel is the most studied country in the world per capita'."

Despite the abundance of source material, the study of the pre-state society and modern Israel did not register on the North American university radar for quite some time. When it did, Troen relates, interest was limited to a very narrow scope such as a specific archaeological find or a social trend in kibbutz life.

Troen, who made Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) 27 years ago from the Boston area, plans to continue to travel between Brandeis and BGU – dividing his time between Brandeis and his position as Lopin Professor of Modern History and Senior Fellow at the Ben-Gurion Research Center in Sde Boker, in the Negev.

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