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NYC to Increase Security for Synagogues during High Holy Days


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with rabbis and police officials ahead of the Rosh Hashanah High Holy Day season, expressing City Hall remains committed to protecting houses of worship and permitting persons to enjoy the holidays without the threat of attacks. The mayor assured participants in the briefing that at present, there are no specific threats, adding security around synagogues would be heightened ahead of the holiday season in any event, in a precautionary measure.

Israel Urged to Apply Geneva Convention to West Bank and Gaza

By VOA News &

Israel's attorney general is urging the government to apply an international convention governing the treatment of civilians in occupied territory to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. His recommendation says the government should "thoroughly examine" the possibility of applying the Fourth Geneva Convention to those areas.

Israel has refused to apply the convention to the West Bank or Gaza, arguing that they were not sovereign territories before their capture in the 1967 war. This means that for the first time, Israel would formally agree that Yesha is in fact occupied territory.

International Law Prof. Talia Einhorn said that Attorney-General Meni Mazuz's position could have far-reaching ramifications. She said it could pave the way for the international community to negate Israel's claim to the Old City of Jerusalem and other Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Ramat Eshkol, Pisgat Ze'ev and Gilo. Applying the Geneva Charter would mean that Israel is not permitted to house its citizens in Yesha - and could even give such residents the international status of "war criminals."

She recently wrote, "Up until 1948, Judea, Samaria and Gaza were a part of the British Mandate. In the 1948 War of Independence, Egypt illegally grabbed the Gaza Strip, and Jordan took Judea and Samaria, the 'West Bank.' Egypt did not claim sovereignty in Gaza, but Jordan deigned, in 1950, to annex Judea and Samaria. This annexation was not recognized by international law. The Arab nations objected to it, and only Britain and Pakistan recognized it - and Britain did not recognize the annexation of eastern Jerusalem. In 1967, after the Six Day War, these territories - which were originally meant for the Jewish Nation's National Home according to the Mandate Charter - returned to Israeli control.

"According to international law," Einhorn wrote, "Israel has full right to try to populate the entire Land of Israel with dense Jewish settlement, and thus actualize the principles set by the League of Nations in the original Mandate Charter of San Remo in 1920. At that time, the mandate for the Land of Israel was granted to the British, and the introduction to the mandate charter stated clearly that it was based on the international recognition of the historic ties between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. Clause II of that mandate charges Britain with 'ensuring the existence of political, administrative, and economic conditions that will guarantee the establishment of the Jewish national home in the Land of Israel.'"

Einhorn said that there is nothing in international law that requires a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean - not even the UN Partition Resolution of Nov. 29, 1947. That resolution states that "independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem" shall come into existence in Palestine.

However, Einhorn noted the widely-overlooked fact that the introduction to the resolution states specifically that it is merely a "recommendation" and nothing more: "[The General Assembly] recommends to the United Kingdom, as the mandatory Power for Palestine, and to all other Members of the United Nations the adoption and implementation, with regard to the future Government of Palestine, of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union set out below."

The fact that the Arab states did not accept the Partition Plan, explained Einhorn, voids the recommendation of any legal basis. She further wrote that Resolutions 242 and 338, which call for negotiations and a "withdrawal from territories" (not "withdrawal from the territories") captured in 1967, are similarly "recommendations." These resolutions were drawn up under the UN Charter's Clause VI, which deals with non-mandatory recommendations - as opposed to Clause VII resolutions, "which are mandatory, and which deal with a threat to world peace, such as those taken earlier this year against Iraq."

Israel Declares Hospitals Off-Limits to Palestinian Hunger Strikers

By VOA News

Israel has declared its hospitals off-limits to nearly 3,000 hunger-striking Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails. Speaking Tuesday on army radio, Health Minister Danny Naveh said any inmates who become ill during the ongoing strike could be treated in makeshift field hospitals inside the prisons.

Last week, inmates in 10 Israeli jails began refusing food, in an attempt to pressure Israel into improving prison conditions. Israel said it would not make concessions. Just hours after the strike started, Public Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi said he didn't care if the inmates starved to death. A prisons spokesman said no serious health problems have so far been detected among the hunger strikers.

Young Mother To Sue Shabak


A young mother of seven, living in poverty is planning to sue the GSS (Shabak) for having destroyed nearly two decades of her life. The woman agreed to reveal only her first initial - H - in order to protect her children. She accused her husband of deceiving her and marrying her - at the behest of the Shabak - only so that she, and the family they would raise, would provide a cover for his GSS work in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria. It should be noted that there was great enmity and mutual suspicion between the Jewish public in Yesha and the GSS at the time.

"We were married in 1987. He was a newly observant Jew, someone who studied and said he wanted to build a religious Jewish home in Yesha, and everything appeared to be fine. I remember that shortly before the wedding, he asked me out of the blue if I would marry a GSS agent, and I of course told him no; for us, that was something that could not even be mentioned - as the GSS [Jewish Section] was known to be working against Jews in the settlements, maligning them and always ready to take legal action against them. I quickly forgot about [this question].

"But for the next three years, there were many strange events in the house. I hardly saw him; he had all sorts of excuses, such as that he had to study in order to grow religiously, and that he had to work - but in fact we had very little money, and our children began to be born, and he wasn't around, and people began to raise suspicions. My father asked that if he works so hard, how is it that we have no money?

"I was busy with diapers and babies, but despite this I began to raise questions myself. When I finally confronted him with the suspicions I had, he brought me to a very surprising meeting in a hotel, where I was informed for the first time - by his GSS handlers themselves - that I was married to a GSS agent. They told me that he was not being unfaithful to me, nor was he an informer or an agent provocateur, but was rather helping our own public by making sure that extremists would not do bad things. They told me that he was a good person who was doing this merely because of his love for Israel, and that he received only small sums, if anything.

"I tried not to get too deeply involved in the matter, because for me it was simply a major blow. For three years, my whole life was a deception. I grew up in a religious-Zionist home, and suddenly, after three years and with three babies, I find that I'm married to someone who - OK, he doesn't have horns or a tail, but someone who stands against everything that I believe in."

She said that the revelation of his GSS work led their marriage along a very rocky path. The Shabak tried to help maintain family tranquility - "very humanely," she said with biting sarcasm - and the couple was provided with the counseling services of an IDF psychologist.

The situation deteriorated after she asked him to leave the Shabak, when he said he would not do so unless she agreed to move with him from their comfortable home in a large Yesha town to a small hilltop community. This, she says, was merely so that he could continue his work as a Shabak agent from a new location. "But I fell for it; I was in no position to do anything else. Where would I go, with three babies?"

"When you look back," H was asked, "do you feel that your wedding itself was part of his cover story, a way of his getting into the Yesha towns and life?" Her response: "I can't prove it with documents, but I am 100% sure that yes. I had a girlfriend at the time whom I now know he would have married just as well; it didn't matter to him, as long as he had the right person at the right time who belonged to the right group, so that this could be his ticket to entering this public... This is total deception on his part and on the part of the GSS. There were many hints and suspicions over the years, but I was in no position to carefully analyze them.

"To a certain extent, I cannot say all that I know, because I fear for my safety and my children's safety. It's not that I have received threats, but... you should know that police files were opened against him for violence, [including] for violence within the family - and they were automatically closed. It's not that I knew all this at the time; later I found this all out. At the time, I tried not to know and not to feel. Nothing would stick against him.

During the '90s, H said, her husband again lied to her, saying that he had quit the GSS - when in fact he not only continued working for the organization, but also received a high salary, which he did not pass on to his family. "This is the most difficult part," she said.

"When I began the divorce proceedings in 1999, I was living with our seven children in very difficult economic conditions, and I found that he had been employed by the GSS - and received hundreds of thousands of shekels. I was about to faint, but I still managed to ask one simple question: How could a person do this to his children? How could he let them live the way we were living and not support them?

"Jews believe that there are three partners in the creation of every person: the parents and God. In the case of our marriage, there were three partners - my husband, the Shabak and myself. They used me and deceived me, and enlisted me in the 'fight for the security of the State of Israel' - without my knowledge, and at the expense of my marriage and my children."

The divorce was finalized earlier this year, but H said, her ex-husband has not paid his share of child support. Represented by Atty. Naftali Wurtzberger, she plans to sue the Shabak - but is not yet sure for how much. "It is very hard to measure the precise economic value of all these lost years of deception and poverty," her lawyer said.

In the meantime, she continues to live with her seven children in destitution, in a broken-down caravan [mobile home without wheels] in a moshav [cooperative community] in the Kiryat Gat area. "Most of the children have their own issues and problems," says someone close to the case, "as they never quite had a normal home life." H can support them only with various house-cleaning jobs, though she is now actively pursuing the idea of becoming a van driver.

Asked why she is publicizing her story, the above source said, "For one thing, this is one of the ways in which the GSS harasses the Jewish public in Yesha. Do the ends of 'maintaining national security' justify cynically taking and ruining a young girl's life? This cruelty must be stopped."

A television interviewer asked H if she doesn't think that her husband's GSS work was justified in that it could have prevented Baruch Goldstein from doing what he did. [Goldstein was found by a public commission to have killed 29 Arabs in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron 10 years ago, the day after an Arab proclamation had been spread throughout Hebron that a major attack against the Jews was being planned for "one or two days from now," and shortly after then-Maj. Gen. Sha'ul Mofaz called an urgent meeting with Jewish leaders to inform them of the suspicions.] The irony of the question, noted a source close to the case, is that H's husband in fact knew Goldstein - and yet did not prevent the killings.

"The Shabak's mission is to maintain national security in the face of threats by our enemies," said a leading rabbi familiar with the case, "and not to take action against citizens. That is the job of the police. But given that the Shabak does the police's work, this doesn't justify ruining a woman's life!"

Israeli Web Site Reaches Out to Arab World

By Ma'ariv

An email message arrived to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem a few weeks ago. "Message from Libyan intelligence, please read this," wrote the writer, who signed his name along with 20 Libyan intelligence operatives. "We are officers in the Libyan army who are interested in cooperating with the Israeli defense headquarters in the realms of collecting information, plans, and strategic military camps and outposts. We are prepared for this task, and request your support for us. We ask for a quick response, especially since we are joining you as a collaborating element. We seek freedom for the Libyan people. Please respond by e-mail."

This is not the only message from an Arab country that has reached Jerusalem lately. A surfer from Yemen asked for information on conversion and asked if he too could convert. A Palestinian complained that Druze soldiers had cursed him at a roadblock, a Moroccan surfer gave his condolences to the "peace loving" people in Israel for the victims of terror. An Algerian surfer wrote that he wants to meet Israeli girls. A Lebanese called upon the U.S. army to take Hizbullah out of Lebanon, and an Iraqi from Mosul wished to know when an Israeli embassy would open in Iraq.

All these messages are received at the Foreign Ministry's Arabic-language web site, Al-Tawasul (, an Arabic word meaning interaction. The site was launched in January and since then has begun to serve as an address for intensive messaging from all Arab countries. The site supplies the Arab surfer with information about the structure of the government in Israel, Israeli figures, some history, academic, economic and social information, and presents translations of articles from the Israeli press. In the future, the operators of the site intend to add Israeli songs, quizzes and surveys, independent interviews with Israeli figures and a service for businesspeople.

The idea's initiator, Amir Weissbrod, a former spokesman of the Israeli embassy in Jordan, was working in his office in Amman on the development of the site for two years before it was built. He conceived the idea after noticing that there was a severe lack of reliable information about Israel in the Arab world, and the site could serve as a working tool for businesspeople.

"The immediate reactions were very interesting," he recalled. "A surfer from Egypt requested a tape of singer Dudu Yasmin, a Palestinian journalist asked for a government press card. A surfer from Egypt wrote to Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom: 'I would respectfully request that you do everything possible to strengthen the reception of Israel Radio's Arabic service, which has weakened in the past two years. The station enjoys the admiration of all Arabs.'"

The site is reaching upwards of a few hundred hits a day. There are nearly no curses and profanity, most writers are merely expressing interest, but there are also those who ask for help. N., a female student from Morocco, asked for information about Israel's position in the peace process for the purpose of preparing a seminar paper.

"I started to work for her," said the Foreign Ministry's Lior Ben-David, who operates the site. "This site is the State of Israel's virtual embassy. There is potential here for dialogue with the Arab world, and we find that there is thirst for this on the other side. The dialogue is made with citizens, with the people itself, not with administrations, using the discreetness that the Internet provides. The project is still in its infancy."

Ben-Dor, 36, former spokesman of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, officially serves as deputy director of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Arab Media. The department, headed by Amira Oron, formerly Israel's economic attaché in Egypt, was established by Shalom in order to strengthen the connection with the press in the Arab world. The department provides reactions and information to the Arab media, primarily the popular satellite channels such as Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabia and leading newspapers, which are well represented by correspondents in Israel.

Ben-Dor devotes some of his time as the ministry's spokesman in Arabic to operating the web site, and he appears to enjoy every moment. "Egyptian citizens who ask for information about Israel are afraid to visit the Israeli embassy in Cairo, because immediately afterwards they will be summoned for questioning," said Ben-Dor. "The site provides them with an option. They can write to it freely, without fear, and ask whatever they want."

Ben-Dor said that the purpose of the contact is to create dialogue, listen to opinions and learn how the other side thinks. In recent months, Ben-Dor has begun to appeal to Arab writers from around the world.

"I look for them in liberal Arabic-language web sites, and there are several well-known such sites. If a person writes an article with an interesting or progressive opinion, I write to him," he said. "I do not conceal my identity or the place where I work, I contact them and propose to stay in touch. Sometimes there are reservations, but usually they respond favorably. There is no official body in the State of Israel that maintains such contacts with Arab citizens. The rest of the state organizations that have contact with Arabs only encounter their negative side. This is initial, open and very direct contact. It is very clear to everyone who we are."

Several weeks ago, a young Iraqi journalist living in Denmark published an article condemning the 'new Nazis,' as he called the group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. He immediately received a response from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "I was surprised by the political body you represent," he replied to Ben-Dor. In the next e-mail he already sent him his picture, and added: "I have notified many of my friends, Iraqi intellectuals, of the contact with you. They are very glad and propose to form a joint Iraqi-Israeli cultural association."

A Moroccan citizen, an evangelist Christian, turned to the site with a request to meet Israelis. An Egyptian physician proposed joint activity for peace. Ben-Dor turned of his own initiative to a Syrian from the city of Latakia, who dared to publish an article criticizing Syrian diplomacy in the crisis with the United States. He invited him to visit the site, and offered to stay in contact and even speak on the phone. "I have no moral problem being in contact, but not over the phone," replied the Syrian. "I have seen your site, and I wish you success and hope it will be in a democratic and non-Zionist spirit."

A Muslim Iraqi journalist living in Hamburg asked for special help. He related that his grandmother is Jewish, and is named Samiha Hano, daughter to one of the most well known families in Basra. "She has two brothers and a sister," he related, "Maggi, Morris and Naji, who was one of the founders of the Iraqi Communist Party. My grandmother died in the Gulf War in 1991 between my arms. Her last words were: "Look for my brothers and sister. Please help me obtain information that will enable my grandmother to rest in peace."

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