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Thousands Congregate at Western Wall to Mark Tisha B'Av Fast

By Ha'aretz

Tisha B'Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, the traditional date of the destruction of both the first and second Temples, began at sundown Monday evening. An estimated 8,000 worshippers congregated at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City for prayer services. All roads around the Old City were closed off. At synagogues around the country, the Book of Lamentations was read.


Fatah Threatens Revenge for Israeli Killing of Palestinian Militants

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

An armed wing of Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction has vowed to launch attacks to avenge Israel's killing of six Palestinian terrorists. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades issued a statement saying they would react "quickly and painfully with attacks deep inside Israeli territory."

The statement followed Israel's killing of six members of the group during a gun-battle between its troops and Palestinian militants late Sunday in the West Bank town of Tulkarem. The group, an armed wing of Arafat's Fatah faction, frequently carries out attacks against Israelis and is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

The Israeli army said that one of those it killed in Tulkarem was Mahdi Tambouz, considered the Fatah leader in the town. He had been wanted for his alleged involvement in shooting attacks and for organizing suicide bombings. Israel also suspected he had close ties to the militant Islamic group Hizbullah in Lebanon. The Israeli operation against the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the West Bank coincided with fresh raids by Israeli soldiers into the Gaza Strip.


Israeli Court Says Convicted Nuclear Traitor Vanunu Remains a Danger

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's top court has ruled that Mordechai Vanunu, who once exposed the country's secret nuclear program, is still a danger to national security and must be denied more freedom. The decision followed an appeal against his restrictions by the former employee at Israel's secret nuclear facility, who was released from jail earlier this year.

The Supreme Court said it accepted the claims of the security establishment that Vanunu stills know more about the country's secret nuclear program than he has disclosed. The court said that if the current restrictions on his movements and speech were lifted, he would disclose the information to the outside world.

The three-judge panel gave its ruling in response to a petition against the restrictions by Vanunu, who was released three-months ago after serving an 18-year sentence for treason and espionage. Following the decision, Vanunu again complained of unfair treatment by the Israeli authorities.

"All the world can see the true face of Israeli justice and Israeli democracy. This decision of the court giving power to the government to not respect the human rights, the freedom of speech, freedom of movement - the basics of any democracy in all the world," he said. "What we are saying all the time is that Israel is not a true democracy, and today we are seeing it inside the Supreme Court of Israel. They are following the government's orders and from my point of view that is very shameful for Israel's democracy."

Most Israelis regard Vanunu, a former technician at Israel's secret Dimona nuclear facility, as a traitor. He is despised by many of his fellow citizens for an interview he gave to London's Sunday Times newspaper in 1986 about the site in the southern Negev desert.

Based on his information, some foreign arms experts concluded that Israel had produced as many as 300 atomic warheads and had the capacity to build even more. Following his release, Israel banned Vanunu from leaving the country or speaking to foreign media.


Israeli Researchers Solve Mystery of Lenin's Death

By Israel21c.org

A group of Israeli researchers say they have proven what has been an 80-year-old mystery regarding the death of communism's greatest icon - Vladimir Illyich Lenin. After the Russian leader died on Jan. 24, 1924, the official cause of death was listed as arteriosclerosis, but rumors have persisted over the ensuing years that it was a cover up. The Israeli team - after five years of research - are convinced beyond doubt that the actual cause of death was syphilis.

Writing in the European Journal of Neurology, the trio of doctors from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev and Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem say they used medical records pieced together from archives released after the fall of communism to reconstruct the first Soviet leader's illness and death.

The team's conclusions have raised issues of the public's right to know about their leaders, and how incomplete disclosure can affect historic events. The team said Lenin's syphilis caused brain damage and later dementia in the last two years of his life. The bases of the disclosures are medical charts, results of a post mortem examination and memoirs from physicians who treated Lenin and were sworn to secrecy after he died in 1924.

Officially, Lenin died of arteriosclerosis, but only eight of 27 doctors who treated him were willing to put their names to the death certificate. Among those who refused to sign were his two personal doctors. "For many years, I had read about Lenin's deterioration in his last three years - and the symptoms that were described did not match the medical definition of his official cause of death - arteriosclerosis," Dr. Eliezer Witztum of BGU told ISRAEL21c.

According to Witztum, the diagnosis of syphilis was particularly problematic in the 19th and early 20th century as the disease often mimics other brain disorders. But the discovery that a committee of Soviet doctors prescribed the medicine Salvarsan, an arsenic-based treatment that is used only to treat syphilis, was a strong indication that his doctors knew the true nature of his disease.

"My colleague at Ben-Gurion University - Prof. Vladimir Lerner - worked as a young psychiatrists in Moscow with the son of Lenin's chief physician. He confided to Lerner that among the many autopsy reports at the time of Lenin's death was one which cited the cause of the death as syphilis," said Witztum.

Witztum and Lerner's expertise is in psychobiography - the biography informed by psychological theory and/or research whose typical focus is an individual of historical importance. "We combined forces along with Dr. Yoram Finkelstein, head of diagnostic neurology at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek hospital. Our work is primarily in psychobiography, and with Finkelstein's expertise in toxology and neurology, we had all sides covered," he said.

Witztum said that blood test results that were taken frequently and would have proved conclusively that Lenin had syphilis are missing from his medical chart, while the results of far less accurate urine and lumbar puncture tests are still in the file.

"There is no direct proof because of the lack of blood tests. Why did they disappear?" Lerner said to Reuters. "Why are there urine and lumbar tests which were taken infrequently but the results of blood test which they conducted often have vanished?"

According to the researchers, Lenin's crippling neurosyphilis caused massive brain damage and dementia in the last two years of his life and had an impact on ensuing events in his country. "His (Lenin's) private business affected the lives of millions because of his illness, his inability to lead the country at a crucial time," said Finkelstein.

"In 1923, Stalin was able to take control of his party. If Lenin's condition had been public, that would never have happened," Witztum told ISRAEL21c. "I think the public should know about its leaders, when a disease is incapacitating them. Look at the health of American presidents that have been secret - Kennedy's addiction to painkillers, even the information that's come out about [Richard] Nixon and his being incapacitated by drinking during the Yom Kippur War," he added.

Lenin's body is still on display in a specially constructed mausoleum in Moscow. His preserved brain might furnish the final proof, but the doctors doubt Russian officials will ever allow independent scholars to study tissue samples. Although the researchers end their article by suggesting that an examination of the tissue might find the DNA of syphilis and yield a definitive answer, Witztum has no illusions that this is likely to happen. "They won't let anyone in. It's like if I said that George Washington died of syphilis. Would the U.S. government allow us to probe his brain to do DNA testing?"



















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