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965,000 New Israeli Immigrants Since 1989

By Itim News Agency

A total of 965,000 new immigrants have come to Israel since 1989, according to a report by the Absorption Ministry. The southern port city of Ashdod absorbed the largest number of immigrants in the last 15 years. Some 71,831 immigrants have settled in the city, comprising 34.6 percent of the Ashdod population. Haifa is in second place with the second largest immigrant population. The northern port city's 69,998 immigrants make up 23.3 percent of its total population. Jerusalem, in third place, has absorbed 60,080 immigrants since 1989, which now comprise 7.9 percent of the capital's population.

Israeli Official Predicts Gaza Withdrawal to Lead to Revival of Peace Talks

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's defense minister is predicting a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian leadership is likely to emerge after Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Israeli foreign minister joined the ranks of government ministers in favor of a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz says he is confident of seeing a revival of peace talks once a unilateral withdrawal of troops and Jewish settlements from Gaza has been completed. He foresees the possibility that a pullback could be the catalyst for the building of a new Palestinian leadership, one with which Israel could negotiate.

Mofaz acknowledged he had been opposed to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, which some observers said inspired the Palestinian uprising that began later that same year. He said he does not have the same reservations about a pullback from Gaza, which he sees as militarily, politically and economically beneficial to Israel.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also announced he would back Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. "Despite the many painful and ideological aspects, I have decided to support the prime minister's plan," he said.

In a separate development, Israel's military intelligence chief, General Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, said a withdrawal from Palestinian areas would result in a reduction of Palestinian terrorism. He was testifying before the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee. The general's comments appear to support Sharon's claims that disengaging from some areas would help reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians and thereby lower violence in the region.

UN Security Council Holds Emergency Session on Assassination of Hamas Leader

By Peter Heinlein (VOA-United Nations)

The U.N. Security Council has held an emergency session on Israel's assassination of a second top Hamas leader in a month. The Palestinian envoy accused the Council, and the United States in particular, of encouraging Israel to continue its targeted killings. Without naming the United States, Palestinian envoy Nasser al-Kidwa effectively blamed Washington for the killing of Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi.

In remarks to the Security Council Monday, the Palestinian envoy said the U.S. veto of a resolution condemning last month's killing of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin had given Israel a green light to kill the sheik's successor. "It is without a doubt that the recent failure of the Security Council to condemn the extrajudicial execution of Sheik Yassin and to take urgent measures to address the deterioration of the situation due to the veto cast by one of the Council's permanent members has further emboldened the Israeli government to continue carrying out such illegal actions with impunity."

But Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham rejected the Palestinian claim. While saying Washington had advised the Israelis to consider the consequences of their targeted killings, Cunningham noted that the attack on Rantisi followed a Hamas-sponsored suicide bombing. "Palestinians must stop armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror."

PM Sharon Explains - 10 Years Ago - Why Not To Withdraw From Gaza


Tuesday was Yamit Day - the 22nd anniversary of the uprooting of the northern Sinai city of Yamit and a dozen neighboring communities. The evacuation and uprooting, which was carried out in the framework of the peace treaty with Egypt, was overseen by then-Prime Minister Begin and then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

Ten years ago, on the 12th anniversary of the Yamit pullout, Sharon was interviewed on Arutz-7. The then-Knesset Member explained why a withdrawal from Gaza, Samaria or Judea was totally unacceptable. Excerpts:

A-7: "Some of the public remembers you, MK Sharon - possibly to your consternation - as the man who evacuated Yamit. Can you take us back to this day 12 years ago? Where were you, what did you do?"

Sharon: "First of all, I would like to note that it was very hard to separate from Sinai, an area in which we fought during the Six Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, and an area whose horizons we came to know. It was especially painful to evacuate the communities and their residents. This was very painful. We made great efforts with the Egyptians to retain these areas, but it was impossible to do this and at the same time to make peace with them; we tried many other avenues, including an exchange of territory, but these did not succeed. On the one hand it was very sad, but it also aroused not a small amount of jealousy to see how the Egyptians related to their sacred values..."

A-7: "Your formulation at the time was, 'Peace in exchange for territory" - something we are hearing now as well [in the framework of the six-month-old Oslo agreement, to which Sharon and the Likud strongly objected - ed. note]."

Sharon: "I think it is very hard to compare that which occurred in Sinai, or what we could have done then, with what we face now. Sinai was a land far from our population centers, and we were able to reach an agreement that an area 200 kilometers wide would remain demilitarized forever. In addition, we signed an agreement with a sovereign country that controls its territory - and not with a terrorist organization that cannot and does not want to control terror organizations, nor even its own internal factions that continue to employ terrorism. In addition, Egypt had no other territorial demands [other than what we gave them], and this is different than the present situation."

Jewish Writer Urges Germans to Read 'Mein Kampf'

By Reuters

Germany should lift a ban on Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" because Germans are now "mature" enough to handle it, a leading Jewish historian said on Tuesday. But the German authorities said they had no such plans.

Speaking on the 115th anniversary of the Nazi leader's birth, Israeli-born Hitler biographer Rafael Seligmann said reading "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle) could help Germans understand how Hitler drew their nation into a self-destructive war." By reading this book, people break down the illusions that Hitler was not so bad after all and only wrote muddled stuff. Those who read this book know he was a warmonger and wanted a destructive war on France and Russia and that he was a fanatical Jew hater, not just an anti-Semite," the author of "Hitler, The Germans and their Fuehrer" told Reuters.

"Mein Kampf" is available online and in most countries, including Israel. But in Germany, it is illegal to distribute it except in limited circumstances. Nazi symbols like the swastika and even making the stiff-armed Hitler salute are also banned.

Hitler dictated the tome to his secretary Rudolf Hess while in prison in Bavaria following the failed Munich "Beer Hall" putsch of 1923. It outlines a doctrine of German racial supremacy and ambitions to annex vast areas of the Soviet Union. Published in 1925, it became a school textbook after Hitler won power in 1933. All German newlyweds also received a copy.

Now, purchasers who can prove an academic purpose may secure an existing copy but otherwise sales are banned and the state of Bavaria, which was given the German rights to the book by the postwar occupying powers, refused to authorize new copies. "It could create the impression that we tolerate the distribution of Nazi policies. It would be an affront to lots of the surviving victims of Hitler's rule," said a spokeswoman for the Bavarian state finance ministry in Munich.

Seligmann, who lives in Germany, said: "The Bavarian government...fears the book would be on bestseller lists for several weeks and then the whole world would say: 'Look at Germany, they're all reading Hitler'." That underlined sensitivity in 1999 when public outcry helped put an end to sales to Germany of the English-language translation of "Mein Kampf" after the title appeared among the U.S.-based retailer's online bestsellers.

Settlers' Painful Memories of Withdrawal

By Don Canaan & BBC News Online

Israel's planned pullback from Gaza evokes bitter memories of the dismantling of the settlement of Yamit in the Sinai more than 20 years ago. These are anxious times for the settlers in Gaza, some of who might be forcibly evicted from their homes for a second time.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip, and parts of the West Bank, assumes that the 20 Jewish settlements in the strip will be evacuated. Sharon's decision to uproot the settlers has much of the Israeli right in a state of apoplexy. Though the settlements are viewed as illegal by most of the international community, Sharon has been one of the most prominent champions of settlement building. The settlers who came there were ideological, they were pioneers like the first people who settled in Israel

In 1975, with the backing of an Israeli government keen to establish settlements in the Sinai as buffers between the Egyptian forces and southern Israel, Yamit was founded. Over the next seven years, while other Jewish settlements sprang up nearby, Yamit grew in size to become the biggest Jewish town in the Sinai.

They came from America, the USSR and all over Israel - from other settlements, from kibbutzim, from cities, and from the army - secular and religious people, seeking adventure and a challenge. Life flourished in Yamit as more than 2,000 families set up home there.

Ironically, the person who convinced Prime Minister Begin that Yamit would have to go was the then Israeli Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon. Faced with the prospect of being forced out, many of Yamit's residents left, induced by compensation from the government (reportedly from $100,000 to $500,000).

Others, however, would not accept the town's removal at any price and they prepared for confrontation. The settlers who dug in at Yamit were backed by fellow ideologues from the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) settlement movement in the West Bank, many of who flocked to Yamit to help defend the town. In the end, about 200 defiant settlers - most not from Yamit - remained.

When the order finally came for the military to act, many of the settlers barricaded themselves inside their properties, while others climbed onto their roofs as soldiers smashed down their doors. Television pictures showed shocking scenes of Israeli troops dragging Jewish men and women, kicking and screaming, from their homes. Troops sprayed protesters with high-powered jets of foam as bulldozers smashed down walls and tore up the land. Despite mounting a fierce resistance, the settlers were no matches for the army's overwhelming might, and within days the rebellion was quashed and the town destroyed. Now, two decades on, Ariel Sharon is threatening to uproot the settlers once again.

Tuesday was the anniversary of the return of the Sinai by Israel to Egypt--a day of mourning by many of the settlers who settled and later were forcibly evacuated from the seaside city of Yamit on the Mediterranean.

Chaim and Sarah Feifel, former Cincinnatians, arrived in Yamit in 1976 and wanted their future grandchildren to remember them as pioneers who started a new Israeli city. Now they''re looking back at the days when paradise was regained and subsequently lost. From their home in northern Israel, south of Haifa, the Feifels remember paradise.

Yamit was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan''s dream--a projected seaport and city of 250,000 founded on the Sinai sand dunes overlooking date palm trees and the blue Mediterranean--a populated buffer between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on the other side of the Suez Canal.

Some alternate historians say Moses and the children of Israel passed near the site of Yamit 3,500 years ago as they wandered for 40 years through the Sinai Desert on their way to the proverbial land of milk and honey.

Now only the whine of the desert wind weaves its currents through the crevices of destroyed homes, businesses and monument--a memorial to the young men who died during the 1967 Six Day war. Christians, Jews and Muslims died during three Arab-Israeli wars and battles that took place in the Sinai in 1956, 1967 and 1973--Egyptian and Israeli--young people who fought and died in that desolate, forsaken desert wasteland.

The modern-day chariot carrying Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat hugged the intermittently green coastline of Sinai on its historic mission to Jerusalem. Israelis glancing upward into the clear night sky saw merely a jet banking gently to the northwest. It was only later that the Feifels, along with other new children of Israel who had moved to the city of Yamit realized their dreams were about to die.

Sadat wanted peace with Israel, but its price, Sadat insisted, had to include the removal of the Feifels and other old and new Israelis from Sinai''s sands. They had came to this Eden spotted with rusting Egyptian and Israeli tanks and fertilized with the blood of humanity.

Some Yamit residents threatened to kill themselves if they were forcibly removed from what they referred to as paradise. Others threatened to secede from Israel. Official Israeli government policy was that the settlers had to be removed and the army came and forcibly removed the remaining diehard residents. The Jerusalem Post described the scene:

"Apocalypse had arrived in Yamit and in the dust and noise and destruction one could wander freely. Dozens of bulldozers and giant mobile air hammers were loose in the city like a pack of predatory beasts," reported the Jerusalem Post.

One resident told reporter Abraham Rabinovich, "We received sand dunes and made palaces. Let's see what they (the Egyptians) can do with the dunes." The Post's Joshua Brilliant reported Amity's last day: "A huge blast engulfed the 5,000 square meter commercial center in a cloud of blue-grey smoke, which rose like a mushroom."

Former Adath Israel Cantor Chaim Feifel described life in the seaside resort before the army came. "It was an exciting time. You were building a new community with your own hands. With Camp David, it all came to a stop."

Red, purple and white flowers--counterpointing the embryonic city's myriad blue and white Israeli flags--hugged closely to the cream-colored prefabricated concrete slabs being smashed by the piledrivers and bulldozers. Monday was the 22nd anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Yamit and Sinai and peace between long-term enemies.

That gift of peace silently glided overhead as the Sabbath disappeared and the stars appeared. At 8:01 p.m. Sadist's jetliner landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the first minutes of a then potential peace came to the Middle East. Old enemies became new friends. The crowds roared its approval when Sadat shook hands with Moshe Dayan. A person standing nearby, according to the Jerusalem Post, said Sadat told Dayan, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be all right."

The peace treaty between the two nations was signed on March 26, 1979 and on April 25, 1982; the events that had started on a November day at Camp David came to fruition. Sinai was returned to Egypt. Yamit was bulldozed to the ground. But Anwar Sadat did not live to see that day. He had been assassinated seven months before.

Sarah Feifel reflected on the events that resulted from the appearance of the two omens in the sky--44 hours apart. "After Camp David, I walked down to the beach and wept. I went through all the stages of mourning."

Amidst the rubbage and wreckage of destroyed dreams, the sun sets each night on paradise gone astray.

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