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At Least Two Killed, 14 injured in Arad Bus Accident

By Ha'aretz

At least two people were killed and at least 14 injured, one critically, in a bus accident at the Arad central bus station Wednesday. Three people were moderately injured and 10 others were lightly injured in the incident. All of the injured were taken to Soroka hospital in nearby Be'er Sheva for treatment; the person critically injured was evacuated by helicopter. An initial investigation into the accident determined the bus driver lost control, swerved from his lane onto a sidewalk, and hit pedestrians.

Egged spokesman Ron Ranter said the 32-year-old bus driver apparently suffered from a stroke and lost consciousness while driving. A few minutes before the accident the driver told the dispatcher that he did not feel well.

Magen David Adom emergency medical teams arrived on the scene and found the two people who were killed and the person who was critically injured trapped under the bus. A truck with a crane that happened to pass by the scene aided in the rescue effort. The MDA Negev regional director said the driver was found partially conscious with his head resting against the steering wheel. He emphasized that to the best of his knowledge the driver had no history of health problems, and passed periodic health tests.


Israel Warns of Nuke Development in Iran and Syria

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel warned of attempts by Syria and Iran to develop nuclear capability along with upgraded missile systems. Although Iran and Syria have rejected the allegations, Israel said the international community must deal with what could turn into a regional and global threat. Israel has stepped up its warnings in recent weeks of the potential dangers posed by Iran and Syria. In particular, Israeli officials warn that Iran could soon develop nuclear weapons and they object to what they say were Syrian attempts to purchase upgraded missiles from Russia.

Earlier this week, the chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency told a parliamentary committee that by the end of 2005 Iran would have the technology needed to develop nuclear weapons within several years after that. The head of Israel's parliamentary security and foreign affairs committee, Yuval Steinitz told VOA, the warnings are urgent. "The Iranian very ambitious nuclear program is combined with a very ambitious ballistic missile program and the real aim of this is not becoming a regional nuclear power, but a global nuclear superpower and if this will happen a dark curtain will cover the Middle East and Europe and the rest of the world."

The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency (IAEA) has been looking into Iran's nuclear program, but has yet to find clear evidence that Tehran intends to make nuclear weapons. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected the Israeli allegations and accused Israel of simply trying to divert attention from its own nuclear program.

Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, but will neither confirm nor deny their existence and has not signed on to the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Israeli officials have also recently raised alarm bells about what they said were plans by Syria to purchase upgraded weapons from Russia, in particular the SA-18 Igla shoulder-fired surface to air missile. The Israeli warning came prior to a visit to Moscow this week by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In Moscow, Assad denied that the issue was under discussion, but also defended his country's right to buy what he called "defensive" weapons.

Israeli security analyst, Shlomo Brum of Tel Aviv's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies said the SA-18 missile was not really new. He said he inspected one of them 15 years ago. "When I was Israeli Defense Attaché in South Africa and the South Africans had captured some of these missiles in Angola. We know it for the last 15 years and so I presume we are quite capable of developing countermeasures against these missiles.

Brum added that such missiles in the hands of Syria or Syrian-supported terrorist groups such as Hizbullah would present a challenge though it would not likely change the balance of military power between Syria and Israel.

But, Yuval Steinitz said there is information that Syria is also attempting to acquire nuclear capability, making the threat more complex. "This is a terrorist-supporting country and if such a country will also get new ballistic missiles from Moscow or anti-aircraft missiles and if such a country will be able to acquire nuclear capability it will be disastrous for the Middle East and the entire world. He said both Syria and Iran present a global threat and therefore the international community must act, adding western governments should apply continuous diplomatic pressure, invoke sanctions and, if need be, use force to deal with these dangers.

The United States already lists Syria and Iran as state sponsors of terrorism and has imposed sanctions. Washington also said Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and has not ruled out the use of force to prevent that from happening. The United States also raised concerns about any Syrian attempts to purchase new weapons.


Survivors, World Leaders Remember Auschwitz

By Australian Broadcasting Company

Events to mark the liberation 60 years ago of the Auschwitz death camp have begun with an ecumenical prayer service in a southern Polish village. Around 100 people, including survivors of the camp, gathered in Harmeze, three miles from Auschwitz, to pray for all victims of World War II.

President George W Bush said Auschwitz serves as a reminder to the world to oppose evil and join forces in combating anti-Semitism. "It is a sobering reminder of the power of evil and the need for people to oppose evil wherever it exists. It is a reminder that when we find anti-Semitism, we must come together to fight it."

Vice-President Dick Cheney is one of 40 world leaders who will take part in ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The main ceremony will begin amid tight security later on Thursday at the memorial erected to the memory of the men, women and children who died at the camp. Auschwitz was the Nazi's biggest death camp. At least 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz, most of them Jews.


The Legacy of Auschwitz

By Samuel Pisar (Commentary)

Sixty years ago today the Russians liberated Auschwitz, as the Americans approached Dachau. The Allied advance revealed to a stunned world the horrors of the greatest catastrophe ever to befall our civilization. For a survivor of both death factories, where Hitler's gruesome reality eclipsed Dante's imaginary inferno, being alive and well so many years later feels unreal.

When the liquidation of the ghetto in Bialystok, Poland, began in August 1943, only three members of our family were still alive: my mother, my little sister and I, age 13. Father had already been executed by the Gestapo. Mother told me to put on long pants, hoping I would look more like a man, capable of slave labor. "And you, and Frieda?" I asked. She didn't answer. She knew that their fate was sealed, but she desperately wanted to give me a chance to live, if only one in a million.

As they were chased, with the other women, the children, the old and the sick, toward the waiting cattle cars, I could not take my eyes off them. Little Frieda held my mother with one hand, and with the other her favorite doll. They looked at me too, before disappearing from my life forever.

Their train went directly to the hell of Auschwitz-Birkenau; mine to the no lesser hell of Majdanek. Months later, I also landed in Auschwitz, still hoping, naively, to find their trace. When the SS guards, with their dogs and whips, unsealed our cattle car, many of my comrades were already dead from hunger, thirst and lack of air. At the central ramp, surrounded by electrically charged barbed wire, we were ordered to strip naked and file past the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. The "angel of death" performed on us his ritual "selection": those to die immediately to the right; those fit for hard labor or atrocious medical experiments, to the left.

In the background there was music. Near the central gate of the camp - with its sinister slogan "Work Brings Freedom" - and dressed in striped prison rags like mine sat one of the most remarkable orchestras ever assembled. It was made up of virtuosos from Warsaw and Paris, Kiev and Amsterdam, Rome and Budapest. To accompany the selections, hanging and shootings, while the gas chambers and crematoria belched smoke and fire, these gentle musicians were forced to play Bach, Schubert and Mozart, interspersed with military marches to the glory of the Fuhrer.

In the summer of 1944, the Third Reich was on the verge of collapse, yet the tyrants in Berlin found no higher priority than to accelerate the "final solution." The death toll in the gas chambers now reached unprecedented levels. My labor commando was assigned to remove garbage from convoys arriving at a ramp near the crematoria. From there I observed the peak of human extermination and heard the blood-curdling cries of innocent men, women and children as they were herded into the gas chambers. Once the doors were locked, they had only three minutes to live, yet they found enough strength to dig their fingernails into the walls and scratch in the words: "Never Forget." Have we already forgotten?

I also witnessed an extraordinary act of heroism. The Sonderkommando - composed of inmates coerced to dispose of the victims' bodies - attacked their SS guards, threw them into the furnaces, put fire to buildings and escaped. They were rapidly captured and executed, but their courage reanimated my will to live.

As the Russians and Americans advanced, those of us still able to work were evacuated deep into Germany. My own misery continued at Dachau, with the same backbreaking slave labor, bitter cold, hallucinating hunger and sadistic punishment as at Auschwitz. During a final death march, while our column was being strafed by Allied planes that mistook us for Wehrmacht troops and our SS guards hit the dust, their machine guns blazing in all directions, I and some others made a break for the forest. A few weeks later, an armored battalion of GIs brought me the gift of life and freedom. I had just turned 16.

In the autumn of their lives, the remaining survivors of Auschwitz feel a visceral need to transmit to new generations the memory of what we have experienced in our flesh and our souls, to warn our children that today's spreading intolerance, hatred, fanaticism and violence can destroy their world as they once destroyed ours, that powerful alert systems must be built not only against the fury of nature - a tsunami or hurricane or eruption - but also against the folly of man. Because we know from bitter experience that the human animal is capable of the worst, as of the best, of madness as of genius, that the unthinkable, the unimaginable, remains possible.

In the wake of so many recent disasters and tragedies, a tide of compassion and solidarity for the victims, a yearning for peace, democracy and freedom, seem to be rising on all continents. It is far too early to evaluate their potential. Mankind, divided and confused, still hesitates, vacillates, like a sleepwalker on the edge of an abyss. But the irrevocable has not yet happened, our chances are still intact. Pray that we learn how to seize them.

(The writer is an international lawyer in Paris, New York and London, and the author of "Of Blood and Hope." )


Hitler Film Wins Oscar Nomination

By Reuters

Can a film that humanizes Adolph Hitler win an Oscar? Oliver Hirschbiegel hopes so. He is the director of "Downfall" ("Der Untergang"), a film about the last days of Adolph Hitler's life, which was nominated for an Oscar on Tuesday as one of five foreign language films. Few films have been as controversial in modern-day Germany as "Downfall," which starred Swiss actor Bruno Ganz as Hitler. Some critics in Germany savaged it, though the film industry newspaper Variety hailed it as "a powerful Gotterdammerung centered on the last 10 days of the Fuehrer."

Hirschbiegel said he was surprised at the nomination. "My film is very controversial. Are we as filmmakers allowed to depict Hitler as a man or are we supposed to depict him as a monster. We owe it to the victims to show that this was not a demon from hell but a man born in Austria and raised in Germany. I am very proud of this movie. It is my best work."

Variety said the film would "undoubtedly raise discussion in some quarters for its coolly objective, humanistic approach to the characters and subject-matter. But as thoughtful entertainment, cast in depth and going for the long burn, this is classy upscale fare."







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