Newsletter : 5fax0201.txt
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Israeli-Palestinian Talks Aim to Seal Security Deal
By VOA News
Top Israeli and Palestinian security officials are meeting to work out a deal for
Israel to hand over security control of several West Bank towns to the Palestinian
Authority. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Mohammed Dahlan began their talks
hours after Palestinians say Israeli military gunfire killed a schoolgirl in the Gaza
Strip. Israel is probing the Monday incident, which triggered Palestinian mortar fire into
an Israeli settlement near the school where the girl died. No Israeli casualties were
reported. A short time later, Hamas and other militant groups said they would stick to
their pledge to stop attacks on Israelis if the Israeli army does not launch offensive
Rice Hails Fundamental Choices by Israel and Palestinians
By David Gollust (VOA-Washington)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Israel and the Palestinians are beginning to
make good fundamental choices, putting progress on the Middle East peace road map within
reach. Rice met a senior Israeli envoy Monday in preparation for her first foreign trip
since taking office, which begins later this week and includes talks in Israel and the
Rice said a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would still require
a great deal of work. But she said she was encouraged by recent steps by the two sides
toward a renewal of peace efforts, and said she thinks progress on the road map to a
settlement is "in our grasp."
The new secretary of state made the comments at a get-acquainted, town hall meeting
with staff members on her third day on the job at the State Department. She said she
thinks that parties are beginning to be responsive to the June 2002 challenge by President
Bush for the Palestinians to end terrorism and build democratic institutions through new
leadership, and for the Israelis to create conditions in which a Palestinian state, on
contiguous land, can emerge.
"The good thing about the last couple of months has been that I think you are starting
to see the parties make good fundamental choices," she said. "And as they make those good
fundamental choices, it opens up the possibility of getting back on the Road Map toward a
two-state solution. I don't think any of us doubt that without a Palestinian state that is
viable, that can represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people, that there really
isn't going to be a peace for either the Palestinian people, or for the Israelis."
The new Secretary of State begins her first foreign trip, an eight-day mission to
Europe and the Middle East, starting Thursday. She is due to arrive in Israel Sunday and
will hold talks with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem and the West
Bank the following day. Rice met privately at the State Department Monday with Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's chief-of-staff, Dov Weisglass. They had met frequently last
year at the White House when Rice was Bush's National Security Adviser, as Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon was preparing his initiative for Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of
the West Bank.
Israeli Ambassador to Washington Daniel Ayalon told reporters that Weisglass would
stress the importance of expanding Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, evident
during the Palestinian elections in January, in advance of the planned Gaza
Training to Expel Jews
A Border Guard police base near Beit Horon in the Binyamin region - northwest of
Jerusalem - is being turned into an expulsion training school.
Thousands of Border Guardsmen will be trained there to carry out the mission of removing
close to 9,000 Jews from their homes in northern Samaria and Gush Katif.
The training course includes breaking into houses, isolating homes in which opponents
of the plan have holed themselves up, and dealing with those inside. Destroying buildings
and arresting groups of resisters are also featured in the course. The trainees will take
breaks from their physical training with lectures and workshops on democracy, refusal,
civil rights and the like. No fewer than 18,000 policemen will take the course in the
At the same time, some withdrawal opponents are stepping up their efforts to encourage
policemen and soldiers to refuse orders to expel Jews from their homes in the Land of
Israel. Over 10,000 soldiers and policemen have already signed their commitment not to
fulfill orders. Police and Border Guard officials said that refusers would be fired
outright, while those who fulfill the orders would receive a pay raise.
At least one commanding officer, in a recent letter accompanying a reserves call-up
notice to his soldiers, noted prominently that the tour of duty does not include missions
related to the disengagement/expulsion. In the apparent fear that soldiers might not want
to show up for duty, the commander wrote, "The dates of active duty do not correlate to
the expected dates for the disengagement, such that dilemmas regarding this matter are not
Posters at Sunday night's giant anti-disengagement rally showed a picture of a
soldier about to enter a Yesha home, greeted by a sad-faced family of young parents and
several children standing in apprehension at the door. The caption reads, "Commander, I
can't do it."
Knesset to Honor Raoul Wallenberg
The Knesset will mark the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg,
who saved 100,000 Jews from the Nazis, with a special session on Tuesday. Wallenberg was
a Swedish diplomat in the early 1940s who is credited with saving more than 100,000
Hungarian Jews by granting them visas and removing them from German deportations to the
death camps. On Jan. 17, 1945, he was invited to meet with the Russians, who promptly
arrested him; he was never seen again in the outside world.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is married to Wallenberg's niece, who visited Israel in
March 1998. Then-MK Alex Lubotsky showed her around, and later said, "I wanted to show my
great appreciation for her uncle's activities. She was visibly moved by this, and when I
told her of the many streets named after him in Israel and the like, she was excited to
learn that her uncle was so recognized and appreciated in Israel."
Many feel, however, that Israel did not quite do enough to show its appreciation. Eli
Joseph of Maaleh Adumim, a long-time "concerned citizen" on behalf of both Wallenberg and
Jonathan Pollard, is one of the driving forces behind Tuesday's Knesset session. "It's a
disgrace that more is not done for people who did so much for the People of Israel,"
Joseph said. "I'm talking about the 60-year abandonment of Wallenberg, and the 19-year
abandonment of Jonathan Pollard." When Wallenberg's half-brother came to Israel several
years ago, "not one Knesset Member or government official agreed to meet with him... I
pleaded with them, saying that he saved 100,000 Jews - but in vain..."
Ethiopia's Jewish Community to be Brought to Israel by the End of 2007
The last 20,000 Falashmura who are eligible to immigrate to Israel will be brought here
by the end of 2007, the government decided Monday.
To achieve this aim, the rate of immigration from Ethiopia will be doubled as of June 1,
2005, from 300 people a month to 600.
The decision was made at a meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Finance
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, Absorption Minister Tzipi
Livni and Jewish Agency Chairman Salai Meridor. It instructs the Interior Ministry to
finish determining within two months which of the Falashmura currently waiting in transit
camps in Ethiopia are eligible to come here, and for this purpose, authorizes an increase
in the ministry's staff in Ethiopia.
It also instructs the relevant ministries to prepare a detailed plan for the
Falashmura's immigration and absorption within three months. Sharon said that the Finance
Ministry would allocate the necessary funds.
The transit camps, located in Addis Ababa and Gondar, are currently run by the North
American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry in conjunction with the local communities. Under
the government plan, NACOEJ would transfer responsibility for the camps to the Jewish
Agency in approximately September 2005. The agency and NACOEJ signed an agreement to this
effect on Sunday.
In February 2003, the cabinet decided that Israel would take in all Falashmura -
Ethiopians who claim that they were forced to convert from Judaism - who are of Jewish
descent on the mother's side. The vast majority of the Falashmura in the camps are thought
to meet this criterion. The Interior Ministry has, however, been conducting the
eligibility checks very slowly, and former interior minister Avraham Poraz decided that
until the checks were completed, only 300 Falashmura per month would be permitted to
That decision outraged both the Israeli Ethiopian community and many American Jewish
organizations, and both put heavy pressure on the government to speed up the Falashmura's
immigration. Both groups welcomed the government's decision Monday.
Several thousand members of the Falashmura community demonstrated outside the Prime
Minister's Office during the meeting, demanding the end of the monthly immigration quota
and implementation of the government's February 2003 decision.
Livni, who in the past opposed speeding up the Falashmura's immigration because of the
expense of absorbing them, said that the great achievement of Monday's decision was the
treasury's pledge to cover the absorption costs. According to Jewish Agency spokesman
Michael Jankelowitz, it costs the state an average of about $100,000 to bring over and
settle each Falashmura. Among other benefits, Ethiopian immigrants are entitled to housing
grants that cover up to 90 percent of the purchase price of an apartment.
In addition, the Interior Ministry has long worried that the Falashmura would prove a
"bottomless pit," with every batch that leaves the transit camps for Israel immediately
being replaced by new claimants. The Jewish Agency's takeover of the camps is meant to
alleviate that fear: It will ensure that new claimants do not enter the camps, and that
the camps are shut down once the current batch of Falashmura has immigrated. But Jewish
Agency officials acknowledged Monday that the agency still lacks the funds needed to run
the transit camps. They said it will probably solicit funds from international Jewry for
Upon arrival in Israel, the Falashmura undergo conversion to Israel, after which they
are entitled to all the benefits of new immigrants under the Law of Return.
OU Declares War on Kiddush Clubs
The Orthodox Union has called on its synagogues across North America to set aside the
Feb. 5th Sabbath service - Parshat Mishpatim - to fight the phenomenon known as "Kiddush
clubs." To participate in the Kiddush Club, a group of congregants leave the service to
make Kiddush -- often on hard liquor -- during the haftarah reading.
The OU Board of Directors convened in Los Angeles recently and overwhelmingly approved
a statement calling for an end to Kiddush Clubs.
The Kiddush Club challenges the sanctity of the synagogue in multiple ways. The OU pointed
out that the synagogue serves as a mikdash me'at (literally a miniature Holy Temple) - a
place for prayer and kedusha (sanctity). "Any behavior that detracts from the kedushat
beit haknesset (the holiness of the House of Prayer) is insulting to the entire
congregation," declared OU President Stephen J. Savitsky.
Moreover, missing the haftarah reading leaves a void in the service for Kiddush Club
participants. "The haftarah," explained OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh
Weinreb, "is the one opportunity during the Sabbath prayers to encounter the message of
Besides denigrating the Sabbath prayer service, "these clubs also have a harmful
influence on young people because of the clubs' idealization of alcohol," Weinreb
emphasized. "This is particularly disturbing because it is emblematic of the larger
dangers of alcohol consumption and substance abuse in our community."
Nevertheless, he cautioned, it is important to consider the issue of Kiddush Clubs in
the appropriate context, in recognition that OU synagogues overwhelmingly are houses
devoted to prayer and study, with deep religious feeling; that the number of prayer
services (minyanim) within each synagogue are growing, so that on a given Sabbath there
may be multiple services taking place simultaneously; that advanced study takes place
daily; and that programs for children, teens and adults are held with large attendance.
"Kiddush clubs are in a minority of Orthodox synagogues and the people who attend them are
a minority within that minority," Weinreb said, adding, "Kiddush clubs are an aberration
from the atmosphere of kedusha so prominent in our synagogues."
Israeli Company Produces Fingertip Coronary Test
A new device, developed in Israel, can detect coronary disease through a convenient,
non-invasive fingertip test. The Endo-PAT 2000, developed by Itamar Medical in Caesarea,
assesses vascular endothelial dysfunction, an early indicator of atherosclerosis.
The Endo-Pat 2000 System consists of three components. Peripheral Arterial Tonometry
(PAT) signals are obtained using two disposable probes placed on fingers of the individual
being tested. A portable unit connects to and operates the probes, and signal analysis and
the endothelial dysfunction report are generated via a laptop computer. Endothelial
dysfunction assessments can be completed in a 20-minute office visit.
Distributed in the United States by the Cholestech Corporation, the new device is the
only one to have received clearance from the Food & Drug Administration for this use.
FDA clearance was obtained after it was shown that the Endo-Pat 2000 System is equivalent
with an invasive procedure that assessed endothelial dysfunction in coronary arteries.
Cholestech expects to launch the Endo-PAT 2000 for broad clinical use in 2005.
"This test is a noninvasive and easy-to-perform technique to assess peripheral
endothelial function that has the potential to become a valuable tool for cardiovascular
risk stratification in daily clinical practice," said Amir Lerman, M.D., F.A.C.C., a
cardiologist from Mayo Clinic. "All of the currently available tests for the assessment of
endothelial function are more or less invasive or operator-dependent, which precludes
their use as a screening tool in clinical practice. In contrast, the Endo-PAT is
noninvasive, easy to perform and operator independent. We found a strong correlation, and
that the fingertip test was very sensitive in identifying patients with early heart
Itamar Medical, established in 1997, is headquartered in Caesarea, Israel and has an
office in Boston, MA. The company is a pioneer in introducing to the medical community
non-invasive windows to the autonomic nervous system and arterial health.
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