Newsletter : 4fax0826.txt
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Israeli Windsurfer Wins Israel's First Olympic Gold Medal
Gal Fridman was awarded a gold medal for the windsurfing event at a ceremony in Athens
on Wednesday evening, Israel's first ever gold at the Olympics.
During the ceremony, the Israeli national anthem "Hatikva" was played for the first
time ever in the Olympic games, while Fridman and the dozens of Israelis in the audience
sang along. Alex Giladi, the Israeli representative on the International Olympic
Committee, bestowed the medal to Fridman, who looked very excited.
Fridman - the first Israeli to win two Olympic medals after winning the bronze in 1996
- finished the last of the 11 races in second place, but took the gold by scoring 42
points. After the ceremony, Fridman said: "I didn't believe that so many people would come
to the ceremony. Everyone sang the 'Hatikva' with such intensity that people were in
shock, they didn't understand where it came from." Fridman added that he also hoped to win
the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called to congratulate Fridman after the ceremony. Sharon
said: "An entire nation held its breath today in the afternoon during the last race. We
were all excited to see you win. We always knew that you are worthy of a medal and you got
it. The confidence and serenity you demonstrated throughout the contest were remarkable.
You are truly a great sportsman. Israel is very proud of you."
Sharon also congratulated Fridman's trainer Gur Steinberg and the entire team that
accompanied him. Fridman thanked the prime minister and said that he is excited by the
After Fridman crossed the finish line, he took a victory dip and then wrapped himself
in an Israeli flag when he came out of the water.
"It feels like a dream," Fridman said after his victory. "It's an amazing,
indescribable feeling. I'm happy that you were all able to view the race live. I simply
felt that the entire country was pushing me from behind. I suddenly felt extra energies,
and I didn't know where they came from. I planned the race well. My strategy was to pass
ahead of the Brazilian, who was close to me. He missed a wind shift, and I was able to
sail away from him. I saw that he was under pressure, which is evident by the fact that he
came in fourth place. We knew that he could fall because of lack of experience, Fridman
said of the race.
"I'd like to thank the entire country of Israel. I didn't want to celebrate before
crossing the finish line; afterwards everything came out," he said.
Residents of Fridman's hometown of Karkur, near Hadera, streamed to the family's house
to celebrate, Israeli media said.
"It's very, very hard to believe that he succeeded in doing this," said Fridman's father,
President Moshe Katsav congratulated Fridman and invited him for a meeting to give him
a hug. "I'm happy together with everyone about this win," Katsav said. "We all had great
expectations that Gal would do this.
"Today, Gal simply raced with a lot of confidence and he deserved this victory," said
his trainer Gur Steinberg. "Thanks to the entire country for all its support... This shows
that we can beat other countries."
Palestinian Security Official Wounded as Legislature Considers Reforms
By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)
A senior Palestinian security official was wounded and his bodyguard killed in a Gaza
City shooting on Wednesday. The attack comes as the Palestinian Legislature Council meets
to debate reforms in the Palestinian Authority, including the security apparatus.
The attack occurred when a convoy carrying the Palestinian Authority's deputy chief of
intelligence was traveling through the northern part of Gaza City. Tareq Abu Rajab
suffered gunshot wounds to the chest. His condition is not considered life threatening.
Four of his bodyguards were also hit by the gunfire. One of them died of his injuries. No
one has claimed responsibility for the shooting attack that witnesses said was carried out
by masked men.
Abu Rajab, who maintains a very low public profile, has close ties to Palestinian
leader Yasir Arafat. Before taking up his current post he was in charge of security for
Palestinian diplomatic missions overseas. The Gaza Strip has been going through a wave of
violence over the past month. The unrest comes as various factions are fighting to
establish their positions in anticipation of the power vacuum that is expected once Israel
withdraws its forces from Gaza by the end of 2005.
Skunk Bomb Added to IDF Arsenal
The "Skunk Bomb" is being added to the IDF arsenal, intended for use in riot control
situations. The new weapon will be armed with a unique warhead, a synthetic skunk odor
described as extremely powerful, in the hope of repelling rioters without having to resort
to more lethal ammunition. Testing showed the device releases such a pungent odor that
clothes will carry the smell for a number of years, a reality that would be particularly
problematic to Muslims, who are forbidden to pray with clothes that emit an odor.
The latest non-lethal weapon comes following the announcement of a stun tank rocket,
intended to carry the scare of a tank rocket without the potential for injury or loss of
life. Officials are indicating the Skunk Bomb is not field ready but should be up and
running in the near future.
Scientology Alert in Jerusalem
Yad L'Achim, a Jerusalem-based anti-cult organization, announced this week that the
dangerous Scientology cult is actively pursuing new members among religious and Hareidi
At Diskin St. 17, one of the tall buildings whose "shorter sides" face the Hareidi
neighborhood of Shaarei Hessed, dozens of women can be seen entering the offices of the
Shachar Institute, where courses are offered in reflexology, holistic healing - and
Scientology. Shachar is directed by a religious-looking woman who denies any connection
to Scientology - despite the fact that the main Scientology office in Tel Aviv told Yad
L'Achim that she is their Jerusalem representative.
Yad L'Achim said that the cult has an interesting way of attracting the religious
women. A college named Tif'eret advertises that it is looking to hire a secretary, and
candidates who arrive for an interview are told at the end that if they want to be hired,
they must take a course in "dianetics" - a method that is claimed to get rid of "the
hidden part of your mind that stores all painful experiences and then uses them against
you." Dianetics is a central method of Scientology, which has been described as the
"world's most dangerous cult."
Justice Anderson of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, wrote, "Scientology is
evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community,
medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally
ill... [It is] the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the
practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy."
One-time British Health Minister Kenneth Robinson said, "The government is satisfied
that Scientology is socially harmful. It alienates members of families from each other and
attributes squalid and disgraceful motives to all who oppose it; its authoritarian
principles and practice are a potential menace to the personality and well being of those
so deluded as to become followers; above all, its methods can be a serious danger to the
health of those who submit to them..."
Yad L'Achim plans to publicize the dangers of Scientology and the Jerusalem courses in
the Hareidi newspapers in the coming two weeks. Chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz said,
"We have here a cynical attempt to entrap innocent Hareidi women who are not aware of the
many dangers inherent in this destructive cult. These women want only to learn new
psychological methods... This is a clever method of entrapment that should be thrown out
of the Holy City."
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