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No. 19 Bus Positioned at Duke University


The number 19 bus - blown up by Palestinian terrorists in January of this year, killing 11 people - has been positioned at Duke University in North Carolin. The move is a protest action against the Palestine Solidarity Movement, a notoriously anti-Semitic organization. "Two years ago at Michigan they screamed 'Death to the Jews,' said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, Vice President of Amcha." I was there, and I heard the words myself. We will again be at this year's conference, raising our outraged voices."

Sharon Suffers Parliament Setback on Gaza Pullout Plan

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)
The Israeli parliament has rejected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's speech outlining his plans for a total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The vote of 53-44 against Sharon's speech was described by Israeli media as a ringing rejection and a humiliation for the prime minister.

The Israeli leader's Likud Party holds 40 seats in the Knesset. At least a quarter of the Likud members voted against accepting his speech outlining his political and economic agenda, in which he spoke of his plans for a total pull out from Gaza and the evacuation of four West Bank settlements near Jenin.

Although the vote was symbolic and without any political consequences, it illustrated how difficult the road ahead is likely to be for Sharon. Senior Likud official Gidon Sar - who, himself, opposes the Gaza pullout - said, if the parliament approves it, holding the government together will be a real challenge. "As you know, we are in that situation of a minority government since June. I cannot say there is no political danger. There is a clear political danger."

Two of the six members of the National Religious Party have already pulled out of the government, over the disengagement plan. The other four have said they will leave too, rather than be a part of the government, once the debate over the withdrawal begins in the parliament. NRP Knesset member Shaul Yahalon said the only reason the party is still in the government is to keep the pro-disengagement parties from joining the coalition. "If the Labor Party [is] joining Mr. Sharon, it is the last point and the disengagement will occur surely," he said. "Therefore, we prevent ourselves from breaking down the coalition only because [of] this reason."

Sharon representatives are now busily engaged in talks with other political parties, to see if a new coalition can be put together, should the current government fall. Parliament debate on the issue is to begin once the plan is presented, October 25.

Hareidi Newspapers Cancel Cell-Phone Ads


The Hareidi newspapers have decided to stop all advertising for the cellular phone companies until the problem of the inappropriate content services is solved. The decision was made in accordance with a ruling handed down by "The Rabbis Committee of the Torah Giants." So reported leading Hareidi newspaper Yated Ne'eman Tuesday, and HaModia newspaper and Mishpacha magazine are also "included" in the decision.

The rabbis recently ruled that cell phones represent a spiritual danger, in that they afford easy access to content that stands in contrast to a Torah lifestyle. "The goal is to establish a strong fence," Yated Ne'eman reported, "that will protect the generation of the future, and the community of those who follow Torah, from a grave spiritual blow that is already being felt now and that is expected to get stronger in the coming years.

"The spiritual dangers are multiplying in keeping with the tremendous investments being made by the cellular companies who wish to take advantage of every means to enrich their coffers by upgrading their content services." A solution to the problem, say the rabbis, will come in the form of cell phones programmed not to receive content, but to be used only for phone calls.

Yated Ne'eman reported that both Hareidi and national-religious media praised the decision - although a representative of at least one of the latter said that no decision had been made. "If our rabbis instruct us not to accept such ads, we won't," he said. "As it is, we don't accept ads for cigarettes, vacations abroad, and businesses that are open on the Sabbath that have competitors that are not [as opposed to, for instance, Ben Gurion International Airport]."

Poraz 'Repulsed' by Cases of Jews Spitting on Christians

By Ha'aretz

Interior Minister Avraham Poraz issued a strongly worded statement Tuesday against incidents of Jews spitting at Christian clergy in Jerusalem, saying he was "repulsed" by the repeated attacks."

Poraz was referring to the most recent case of such behavior, when a yeshiva student spat at a cross carried by Armenian archbishop Nourhan Manougian in a procession on Sunday, police said. A fistfight broke out, during which the archbishop's medallion, worn by Armenian archbishops since the 17th century, was damaged, and the archbishop slapped the yeshiva student. The student was arrested, and the Jerusalem District Court subsequently banned him from approaching the Old City for 75 days. Police questioned the archbishop.

Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said that the last such case handled by police was more than two years ago, but Christian clergy complain of frequent harassment. Poraz called such behavior by ultra-Orthodox Jewish students "intolerable," and asked Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra to "take all the necessary steps to prevent these incidents in the future." Poraz also expressed his dismay to the heads of the churches in Israel and noted "Israel's commitment to freedom of religion."

Armenian officials charged that Israeli authorities were not doing enough. "When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?" Archbishop Nourhan Manougian told Ha'aretz.

Israel Mourns "Superman" Reeve, "Symbol Of Eternal Optimism"

By BosNewsLife News Center

Israel on Tuesday, October 12, mourned the death of "Superman" Christopher Reeve visited Israel last year on a solidarity trip and also met stem cell researchers at Technion Israel Institute of Technology. Reeve came to Israel to appeal for urgent research to help those with spinal cord injuries in defiance of warnings from the United States State Department to avoid travel to the Jewish state.

"To my great surprise, Israel is a warm and relaxed place. I didn't fear coming here," Reeve was quoted as saying. "The pictures we see in the media show terrible things happening here, terror attacks and casualties - the things that make headlines. What we don't see is the normalcy, the day-to-day life, and this certainly needs to be shown to the world."

As a handicapped person, the former "Superman" Reeve became "another type of all-American hero, the favorite sort, the one that proves the ascendancy of the spirit of man over the body that tries to limit it," said Ha'aretz newspaper in tribute to Reeve, who died Sunday, at age 52. "He became a symbol of that eternal all-American optimism," Ha'aretz added. "At a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl in January 2000, he was even seen getting out of his wheelchair and walking," the paper stressed.

The Jerusalem Post suggested he reflected that optimism and care last summer in Israel when he also "showed support for those disabled as a result of the ongoing violence" in Israel. During the visit he praised the dedication of Israeli scientists in their desire to serve humanity, and spoke of "the sense of urgency that informs their work," the daily said.

Israeli Stem-Cell Research Heals Hearts


A successful Israeli experiment has injected stem-cells into the failing hearts of pigs to correct faulty heart rhythms. The study, reported by Israel21c, raises hopes that the method will eventually serve to enable natural biological pacemakers.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. Heart attacks cause tissue to be permanently destroyed when blood is temporarily cut off to sections of the heart. The implications of the Israeli study could eventually result in relief for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who now use artificial pacemakers to regulate their hearts. Pacemakers are typically inserted because the normal rhythm-generating cells work irregularly, or because they have a break in the cell system of the heart used to spread the natural pacemaking nerve signal.

The Israeli experiment used human embryonic stem cells, taken from five-day-old embryos, which have the ability to grow into almost all of the hundreds of kinds of cells in the body. Researchers are currently focused on discovering methods of integrating stem-cells to regenerate various organs.

The research team from Israel's Technion Institute of Science showed that the cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) created from tiny human embryos integrated functionally into the pigs' hearts. The team from the Technion - headed by Prof. Lior Gepstein of the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Institute of Medical Sciences at the Technion Faculty of Medicine and including leading stem cell researcher Prof. Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor of Rambam Medical Center's obstetrics and gynecology department, - showed that the cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) created from tiny human embryos integrated functionally into the pigs' hearts.

"This has been a long process," Gepstein told ISRAEL21c. "Our first step was generating cell types from stem cells in the lab. We then succeeded in generating heart cells a few years ago. The next step was not only to generate but to show that these cells could function in vivo, and integrate with other networks of cells, and we have now done that."

Gepstein's team started with masses of stem cells growing in laboratory dishes, from which they isolated those few that were spontaneously developing into heart cells. They were easy to spot: They were the ones pulsing in unison, as heart cells do.

The ultimate goal in cardiological research is to improve function after a major heart attack, wherein about a quarter of the four billion cells that make up the heart tissue die, Gepstein told The Jerusalem Post. "To do this, one needs to create enough healthy heart cells that survive the transplant and connect electrically with existing heart cells so they beat in unison. It worked in the lab, so we proceeded to pigs."

The team threaded a probe into the hearts of the 13 pigs and made a small burn in the area that regulates heartbeat, causing a permanent severe slowing of those animals' heart rates. The injury mimicked a human heart rhythm disorder that could be caused by disease or a small heart attack. Then they injected about 100,000 of their human embryo-derived heart cells into the pig hearts. Eleven of the 13 returned to faster heart rates, the team reported in the Nature Biotechnology journal.

Book Review: What if . . . Lucky Lindy beat FDR in 1940?

By Scott Eyman (Palm Beach Post Books Editor)

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA, by Philip Roth. Houghton Mifflin; 400 pages; $26.

At first, nothing happens. Liberals and Jews expect the worst when Charles Lindbergh trounces Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 Presidential election. This is, after all, the famous aviator who has spoken of Jewish "ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government." This is the man who makes diary entries worrying about "dilution by foreign races" and "the infiltration of inferior blood."

Lindy beats FDR by flying The Spirit of St. Louis from town to town, uttering a few windy banalities, then taking off for the next destination. The contrast with Roosevelt, always sitting down, is devastating. "Your choice is simple," Lindbergh declares. "It is not between Charles A. Lindbergh and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It's between Lindbergh and war." When Hitler ignores the non-Aggression pact he signed with Stalin, Lindbergh goes on the radio and says, "Adolf Hitler has established himself as the world's greatest safeguard against the spread of Communism and its evils."

The public doesn't want to know, doesn't want to be bothered with Europe. It's none of our affair. President Lindbergh makes the raving anti-Semite Henry Ford his Secretary of the Interior, and signs a pact with Hitler. And still nothing overt happens, even as the Roth family of the Weequahic neighborhood of Newark, N.J., along with millions of other Jewish Americans, settle down to a suddenly insecure future.

This is the dark premise of Philip Roth's incendiary new novel, which takes us back to a time when what he calls "the intoxicant of anti-Semitism" was rife throughout American society, from the floor of the Senate on down, or - depending on your point of view - from the floor of the Senate on up. It is the time of the openly racist broadcasts of Father Coughlin, of Gerald L.K. Smith, of the German-American Bund selling out Madison Square Garden, a time when America First's idea of entanglements to be avoided was anything that encouraged Jewish immigration to America.

The problem with alternative history is that it's often written by ideological cranks, or writers who can't write. These books usually feature hideous boilerplate sentences: "Robert E. Lee gently stroked Traveler as he contemplated the tragic news from Ford's Theater."

But Philip Roth is one of the few modern writers likely to be read in 50 years. He never shows us Lindbergh, never takes us into his head, but writes his novel from the standpoint of Philip Roth looking back on a catastrophic series of events that altered his family life. Emboldened by Lindbergh's election and his alliance with Hitler, anti-Semites come creeping out of the closet, slowly at first, then with more assertiveness; the Roth family is confronted with open viciousness when they visit Washington.

Only the gadfly gossip columnist Walter Winchell and the little-read New York daily PM speak out against the administration, while most Jewish citizens with property band together behind the President. Even the Sulzberger family's New York Times objects to Winchell's blunt attacks on the administration and applauds his banishment from the air waves. Prosperity surges, everybody is happy, the English continue to die. But there is an initial drip presaging the flood to come.

The Lindbergh administration begins the Office of American Absorption, wherein large corporations are enlisted to relocate small numbers of their Jewish employees to places like Kentucky and Montana and replace them with Gentiles. Winchell thunders that "the Jews will be scattered far and wide to wherever Hitlerite America Firsters flourish. There the right-wing saboteurs of democracy - the so-called patriots and the so-called Christians - can be turned against these isolated Jewish families overnight."

Roth's brother Sandy spends a month with the McWhinney family of Kentucky, and before you know it, he's referring to his mother and father as "ghetto Jews." The administration is given credibility by its Judas goat: Newark Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf, who marries the sister of Roth's mother, and serves as the House Jew for the anti-Semites in the White House.

Rabbi Bengelsdorf claims that the relocation program is meant only to "broaden and enrich the involvement of America's proud Jewish citizens in the national life..." Others believe that the program is meant to weaken the solidarity of the Jewish social structure and diminish the strength of the Jewish voting bloc in elections. As Winchell announces his candidacy for the Presidency, as he takes his message to the streets, riots break out. Jews begin to die.

Basically, The Plot Against America is Radio Days with pogroms, a nightmare scenario that Roth makes credible. But the nature of the book precludes humor, and Roth - without humor - is typing with one hand tied behind his back. There are some giddy flashes of Strangelovian brilliance - Lindbergh campaigning from the Spirit of St. Louis, etc. - but it's a book written in tones of muted amber.

The book arouses a push-pull feeling in the reader - you want more of the giddy Washington madness, the brilliant way Roth presents the coming of a proto-fascist state in America (Sinclair Lewis did the same thing, albeit less credibly, 69 years ago with the ironically titled It Can't Happen Here). But Roth seems equally intent on capturing his parents and his childhood through a might-have-been prism.

Because Roth is working halfway between his artistic polar impulses of moral outrage and slightly didactic meta-fiction, the novel's high concept and implicit seriousness stifle his usual antic spirit and replace it with the brooding anguish of Patrimony, his memoir about his dying father. But unlike Patrimony, The Plot Against America is easier to admire than love. Most of Roth's humor has always been provoked by anxiety squared, fear raised to farcical heights, but here the anxiety is justified - lives are at stake and everybody lives in a state of agitation and fear recalling Kristallnacht.

What Roth is writing about, aside from his usual topic of racial authenticity - which encompasses novels as varied as Portnoy's Complaint and The Human Stain &mdash is the thin veneer that separates civility from savagery, and how easily that veneer is cracked. Despite the period setting, it's very much a post 9-11 book: Corporations are not your friend, the media can be stampeded and even the Times is happily co-opted.

The Plot Against America once again asserts Roth's Newark as the equivalent of Faulkner's Yoknapotawpha, except it's Newark in plague years that never happened, but, as Roth sees it, might have. It's also a remarkable act of imagination, as Roth revives his dead parents and their entire world, brings them back and presents them to us whole - strong, vital, ultimately admirable people who raised a great writer.

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