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Palestinian Rock-Thrower Killed by IDF

By VOA News

Palestinian witnesses say a teenager was shot and killed and two others wounded Tuesday, when Israeli troops opened fire on a group of stone-throwing youths in a West Bank Palestinian refugee camp. However, in Israel's version of the same event, an army spokesman said soldiers opened fire near Nablus on a Palestinian armed with an assault rifle after coming under gunfire from other Palestinians.

Turkey's PM: Israel to Blame for Rising Anti-Semitism

By VOA News & Ha'aretz

Turkey's prime minister has said that Israel has only itself to blame for what he called a rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world. Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his Justice and Development Party in Ankara on Tuesday that Israel's crackdown in the occupied Palestinian territories has triggered hatred for Jews.

Turkey is the only Muslim member of NATO and has had close relations with the Jewish state since the two nations signed a military cooperation pact in 1996. But the relationship has been strained because of Israeli actions towards the Palestinians. Europe has seen a rise in anti-Semitic feelings and actions in recent years. Turkey temporarily recalled its ambassador and another high-level diplomat to Israel earlier this month.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded sharply Tuesday to the prime minister's criticism by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who said earlier in the day that Israeli policy is inflaming global anti-Semitism. Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and another top diplomat earlier this month for "consultations" but said the move was strictly routine. The diplomats returned within days.

NATO's only Muslim member has close economic and military ties with Israel despite supporting Palestinian statehood. But Israel's crackdown on Palestinian militants, including assassinations of their leaders, has strained relations. "We agree [with Israel] on most issues, but we think differently on one or two matters," Erdogan said.

"We don't have a problem with the Israeli people, but unfortunately, the Israeli administration's current actions are increasing anti-Semitism in the world." Europe has seen a rise in attacks on Jews coinciding with an upsurge in violence since the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000.

Erdogan said Israel, a major arms producer, could not compare itself militarily to the Palestinians. "While Palestinians are using stones as weapons, your [Israel's] helicopters are raining bombings."

Israel said in response that, "The latest statements add to a series of recent remarks that unfortunately do not reflect our reality. Israel is not fighting against stones but against the terror of suicide bombers, which has claimed the lives of some 1,000 Israelis over the past few years, Erdogan should address these facts when addressing the matter.

"Turkey's allegations that Israel's security measures contribute to anti-Semitism is inappropriate and only reinforces those wishing to harm the Jewish people, the statement said.

"At a time when the international community is supporting Sharon's proposed disengagement plan aimed at advancing peace in the region, those wishing to promote the process should display a balanced and realistic view of the situation in the area."

Erdogan, whose party traces its roots to political Islam, has offered to help mediate in the Middle East conflict, but he also accused Israel of "state terrorism" during an interview to Ha'aretz in March, for its assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Corruption Charges Against Sharon Dropped

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's attorney general said Tuesday that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on corruption charges. Observers see the decision as a political boost for Sharon while he tries to build a new government coalition and implement his plan for disengagement from some Palestinian areas.

In a televised news conference, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz announced he is closing the corruption case against Sharon. He made his decision after a government legal team rejected the recommendations of the former chief state prosecutor, Edna Arbel, who recommended Sharon and his son Gilad, be charged with accepting bribes from Israeli property developer David Appel. Mrs. Arbel has since been appointed to Israel's Supreme Court.

Mr. Appel was alleged to have sought Sharon's assistance to get the support of the Greek government in building a tourist project on a Greek island. While promoting the project, Appel hired Sharon's son as a highly paid adviser, allegedly to win the influence of the prime minister.

The attorney general said evidence from the investigation did not provide a basis for prosecuting either the prime minister or his son. He said during key periods in which the alleged misconduct occurred, Sharon was in the opposition and could not help the developer. The decision to drop all charges opens the way for Sharon to begin formal negotiations with the Opposition Labor Party to join his coalition.

New Treatment Developed in Israel Helps Body Fight Cancer


A novel new cancer treatment developed at Haifa's Technion in Israel has been shown to eliminate or shrink tumors in 100 mice.

The treatment causes anti-viral T cells - white blood cells that play a large role in the body's immune response - to recognize tumors as virus-infected cells, and thus attack them. The Technion Institute of Technology study was published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Our approach is to use anti-viral T cells to kill tumors," Dr. Yoram Reiter of the Technion Faculty of Biology explained. "Tumor-specific T cells are very rare and not very efficient. On the other hand, the body has very efficient anti-viral T cells, because throughout our lives we're exposed to many viruses such as influenza. These cells are very efficient at recognizing cells that don't belong."

Dr. Andrew Simpson of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in New York lauded the new developments "The approach developed by Reiter and his colleagues is a significant new approach to cancer immunotherapy," said Simpson. "Coupling the specificity of antibody targeting and the selective toxicity of T cells in this way will make it much harder for tumor cells to escape targeting by the immune system."

The team genetically engineered a molecule that is naturally found in the body. On one side of the molecule is an antibody designed to attach itself to a specific type of cancer cell. On the other side, the team placed a molecule called major histocompatability complex (MHC) that allows T cells to recognize if the cells are 'self' or 'foreign.' MHC does this through its peptides, small fragments of protein from cells. T cells survey peptides on MHC molecules to determine whether the cells attached to the MHC molecules are foreign and should be destroyed.

The team places peptides on the molecule that tell T cells that tumors are actually virus-infected cells, so anti-viral T cells now target and kill what they believe to be a virus-infected cell.

This process can be designed for any type of tumor, and to attract any type of anti-viral T cell. Over the past two years, the researchers have conducted test tube and animal experiments, shrinking or eliminating tumors in mice that replicate human cancers such as breast cancer and leukemia.

Reiter cautions that many approaches in cancer research have been successful in mice but do not translate to humans. He remains optimistic, however, and strongly believes the process will not be toxic -- unlike chemotherapy and similar treatments -- since it is based on natural molecules in the immune system and the selective targeting of cancerous cells.

Israeli Study Shows Smoking Poisons Saliva


A new Israeli study shows that smoking tobacco destroys protective molecules in the saliva, transforming it into a dangerous cocktail of chemicals that increases the risk of mouth cancer.

Under normal conditions saliva provides a protective buffer between toxins and the lining of the mouth. This is accomplished with the use of enzymes that reside in the saliva which fight and neutralize harmful substances. However, new research by a team from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, published in the British Journal of Cancer, shows that the chemicals in tobacco smoke combine with saliva to have a devastating effect. They destroy the protective components of saliva - leaving a corrosive mix that damages cells in the mouth and can eventually turn them cancerous.

"In essence, our study shows that once exposed to cigarette smoke, saliva undergoes an affect which turns it from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. Instead of protecting the body, it becomes the enemy," Dr. Rafi Nagler, a co-leader of the project, told Israel21c. "Our normally healthy saliva not only loses its beneficial qualities but it turns traitor and actually aids in destroying the cells of the mouth and oral cavity. Cigarette smoke is not only damaging on its own, it can turn the body against itself."

Nagler practices in the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery at Rambam Hospital in Haifa and has been studying saliva since working on his PhD in the early '90s at the National Institute of Health in Washington.

Smoking and drinking are the leading causes of head and neck or oral cancer - called Oropharyngeal (OP) cancer - that includes cancer of the lip, mouth, tongue, gums, larynx and pharynx. Nearly 400,000 new cases of the illness are diagnosed worldwide each year with the majority in developing countries. The five-year survival rates are less than 50%. According to Nagler, OP cancer is the most common head and neck malignancy and accounts for 2-4% of all new cancers. It is primarily induced by exposure to tobacco.

Jean King, Director of Tobacco Control for Cancer Research UK, which owns the British Journal of Cancer, says, "This insight into how mouth cancer can develop offers more reasons for smokers to try and quit. People know of the link with lung cancer, and this research adds compelling evidence about the damage smoking can do to the mouth."

Twenty-four percent of Israelis smoked in 2002 as compared to 29% in 1998. There is also a reported drop in the number of heavy smokers. In 1998, 25% of smokers reported they smoked more than a pack a day but in 2002, only 19% exceeded a pack a day.

Chief Rabbi: Conversion of Adopted Child Ends Right of Birth Mother


Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger determined Tuesday in a decision of Jewish law that the non-Jewish mother of an adopted child who underwent conversion to Judaism has no parental rights to the child. He issued the decision in light of an adoption case with such facts that recently came to the fore in Israeli media.

"According to Jewish law," Metzger explained, "a mother has no right to give up her child. however, as we are speaking of a non-Jewish mother who expressed her agreement that her child undergo conversion, and if the conversion process was in fact completed, the biological mother has no right to her child."

Unemployment Insurance for the Self-Employed

By Ha'aretz

Welfare Minister Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) ordered on Tuesday the creation of legislation that would for the first time allow the self-employed to receive unemployment insurance if their businesses fall apart.

The Lahav umbrella organization for independent business people believes that because the proposal is being made by a government minister the new legislation will have a good chance of being approved, unlike on previous occasions when proposed laws never got off the ground.

As opposed to those who receive regular payroll salaries, self-employed individuals who find themselves without work are ineligible for unemployment insurance. The situation for the self-employed has worsened over the past three years as the economic recession has deepened.

A further drop in the sector was experienced in January when the Economic Arrangements Law eliminated unemployment payments for tens of thousands of individuals who had set up their own businesses. Lahav Chairman Ze'ev Weiner said the elimination of the unemployment insurance led to a system in which the millions of shekels his constituents have paid into the national insurance system over the years disappeared into the treasury.

"The self-employed play an important role in taking the economy from a situation of recession to one of growth in which they will be able to set up businesses, thus further increasing employment and growth," Orlev said following a Tuesday meeting with Weiner and Lahav Director General Moti Shapira.

Orlev has ordered National Insurance Institute Director General Yigal Ben-Shalom to set up a joint team with the Finance Ministry, the Justice Ministry and Lahav that will prepare legislation for the new initiative.

Weiner is encouraged by the fact that this is the first time the government has proposed legislation for insurance payments to the self-employed. In the past, individual lawmakers have always made such proposals. The NII is also prepared to support the proposal.

Previous NII opposition to similar proposals stemmed from the difficulty in defining who exactly is an unemployed independent businessperson and from the fear the people might close their businesses simply to obtain unemployment payments.

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