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A Look at Chanukah Tradition


Officials in the Israel Manufacturer's Association report that in addition to remembering the miracles associated with the Chanukah holiday, there is the tradition, the "sufganiot" jelly doughnuts and the chanukiah (menorah). Association officials predict that during this weeklong Festival of Lights, beginning Tuesday night, 20 million jelly doughnuts will be consumed nationwide. 10,000 sterling silver menorahs will be purchased and 35 million Chanukah candles will be lit. The cost of a plain box of candles ranges from NIS 3-5 while the better grade averages NIS 18 a box.

Sharon Optimistic About Peace Prospects in Post-Arafat Era

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sounded a note of optimism about the prospects for Middle East peace, crediting the new leadership of the Palestinian Authority for the brightened outlook. Addressing members of his Likud Party in the Knesset, Sharon said the recent actions by the new Palestinian leadership had given him reason for optimism for peace prospects, and made him more determined than ever to go through with his planned withdrawal from all the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

He said the Palestinian leadership would find a willing partner, if it continues its fight against terrorism. Sharon also warned rebels in his Likud Party that he would not hesitate to call early elections, if they prevent him from bringing the moderate Labor Party into the government to bolster his minority position.

Sharon said a broad and stable government is essential to prevent early elections. He said those who want elections think they will bring him down, but he said he is confident that, should early elections be necessary, he will win. Elections are not scheduled until November 2006. The political upheaval that resulted from his disengagement plan has left Sharon with no coalition partners and an urgent need for political support. Likud's Central Committee is to vote on whether to accept Labor in the coalition later this week.

Meanwhile, two opinion polls on the Palestinian presidential race show leader Mahmoud Abbas scoring 40 percent support among voters, but in one poll the jailed leader of the Palestinian uprising, Marwan Barghouti, is shown with a popularity rating of 38 percent. The second poll showed him with a much lower 21.9 percent. The 45-year-old Barghouti is currently serving five life terms in an Israeli prison for planning suicide attacks.

Despite Barghouti's entrance into the contest, both surveys showed a major increase in the popularity of Abbas who is the candidate of Fatah, the largest and most influential group within the PLO. Barghouti is a Fatah member, but is running as an independent candidate. He had originally said he would not contest the election, but changed his mind and filed his candidacy just hours before the deadline expired. Altogether there are 10 candidates vying for the presidency. The election is scheduled for January 9.

The new head of the Palestinian Fatah movement has threatened to expel Barghouti unless he withdraws from the presidential race. Barghouti is seen as the only serious challenger to the official Fatah candidate, former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah chief Faruq Qaddumi said any member who goes against the group's decisions should resign and have his membership cancelled.

Shinui's Parting Anti-Religious Shot


Former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz, before leaving office last week, ordered that daylight saving time ("summer time") in Israel begin without regard for Jewish holidays.

Poraz was one of five Shinui ministers whom Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fired last week for voting against the first reading of the proposed 2005 budget. Poraz used his ministerial power to unilaterally decide when DST begins for a three-year period. According to his directive, Israelis will change the clocks as in Europe, moving it up on the last Friday of March and turning it back the last Friday of October.

Previously, the clock changes usually took into account Passover, which would start after 8 p.m. during daylight saving time, and Yom Kippur, when fasting would continue until after 7 p.m. during daylight saving time.

The traditional "seder" on Passover eve starts following evening prayers after sundown and often lasts several hours. It is considered an important educational event for little children, and the late hour often makes it difficult for them to stay awake or pay attention. The Yom Kippur fast always is the same number of hours, from shortly before sundown until after nightfall the next day, but many religious leaders have pointed out that the psychological effect of a "late-running" fast might lead people to be more lax with starting the post-fast meal. Poraz also took what he apparently considered to be a parting shot at the Likud, calling it "tied to religion and tradition."

Israeli MK to Head Delegation of Jews to Libya


Knesset member Moshe Kahlon (Likud) may become the first official Israeli representative to meet Libyan leader Moammar Kaddafi if he agrees to head a delegation of ex-Libyan Jews to the North African state.

The delegation to Libya is scheduled for two weeks from now, following an international conference in Rome of Jews of Libyan background. Deputy Knesset Speaker Kahlon, of Libyan background himself, will be representing Israel at the conference.

A central topic of the conference is compensation sought by those Jews who were expelled from Libya in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, leaving behind a wealth of property that was confiscated by the state or stolen by neighbors. In light of recent statements by Kaddafi and his son Sayyif Al-Islam in favor of compensatory payments to Jews who lost homes or property, representatives of the Libyan state have also been invited to attend the gathering.

Presumably, the Libyan officials will be asked to present plans for paying out the compensation. Earlier this year, Kaddafi stated that Jews would have an option to receive compensation or another home, but not those who "seized Palestinian lands." He explained that one must differentiate between "Jews and Zionists."

Immediately after the conference, the delegates are to travel to Libya for touring and meetings with senior officials. As noted, Kaddafi himself is likely to meet with the expatriate group, as well, regardless of the presence of an Israeli parliamentarian among the guests.

Teen Indicted For Not Trying to Prevent Girlfriend's Suicide

By Ha'aretz

A 17-year-old youth from central Israel was charged Monday with failing to try to stop his 14-year-old girlfriend from committing suicide almost two weeks ago. The girl killed herself by jumping from the 20th floor of a building in the center of the country. She had apparently planned the suicide together with her boyfriend, who was present at the scene when she jumped to her death.

The charge sheet stated that the two met in April, and were a couple for about a month and half, and renewed their relationship three months ago. On a number of occasions the girl told her boyfriend that she wanted to kill herself, to which he replied that if she committed suicide, he would do the same. According to the indictment, the girl told the defendant that she had tried to kill herself in the past, both by taking an overdose and by jumping from a great height.

During one conversation between the two, the charge sheet claimed, the youth told his girlfriend that he could obtain a car capable of reaching a speed of 125 mph, which he intended to drive into a truck while both of them were in the vehicle. The boyfriend told police that the two had planned to commit suicide together and climbed up to the 20th floor of a building. After they got drunk, the girl sat on a windowsill and asked him to push her out the window.

After he refused to push her, the girl jumped off the window, the boy said. The boy then returned to his house. Police reached him only after the girl's parents complained the she was missing. At first the boy refused to cooperate with the police but then agreed to talk.

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