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PA: Ze'evi's Murderers to Be Released

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Quoting "PA sources," Ynet reported that two senior PFLP terrorists who were involved in the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi would be among terrorists released by Israel. Ynet reported that Ahmad Saadat and Abu Rulma, senior PFLP terrorists imprisoned in Jericho, have been approved for release by Israel, PA sources claim. The terms of their release demand they remain in Jericho. Ynet added that "Israeli sources" reported that murderers would not be released in a deal with the PA, with the carefully-worded statement lending credibility to the PA report that only labels the two as having had a part in the murder conspiracy, differentiating between the conspirators and those terrorists who actually pulled the trigger.


Rice Urges Israel to Take Hard Decisions for Peace

By David Gollust (VOA-Jerusalem) & IsraelNationalNews.com

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who arrived in Israel two days before an Egyptian-sponsored summit meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Sunday that it is a time of optimism and opportunity for Middle East peace-making, a time "we have to seize."

In comments as she began talks with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Rice said fundamental changes are underway in the Palestinian territories, with a new leadership that has expressed desire for a peaceful future with Israel. She also praised the Sharon government's decision to disengage from Gaza and four Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and said the United States would ask Israel to continue to take the hard decisions that must be taken to promote peace and the emergence of a democratic Palestinian state.

Despite the fact that Rice will be in the region on the eve of the Sharon-Abbas meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Rice has said she would not attend, adding that the United States wants to nurture, but not take the lead role in peace efforts she said that are best left to the parties themselves.

At a news conference in Ankara on her departure for Israel, the secretary proposed a $100 monthly allowance to terrorists who agree to lay down their arms and retire or find another profession. The money would be part of a $350 million package deal announced by President George Bush this past week. The Bush administration suggested that Congress consent to send $41 million immediately for an "immediate impact in support of democratic transition." Under Congressional rules, the money would go for specific projects, and not directly to the Palestinian Administration (PA).

Rice wants part of the money to go directly to "retired" terrorists. Speaking between visits to European countries, she proposed a pension fund for at least 1,000 terrorists. Bush's offer of $350 million came after American disappointment at assistance that Arab states have offered. The American aid is to be earmarked for new and modern border crossings, road and water infrastructure, and education and health programs.

Rice held a dinner meeting with Sharon late Sunday and will travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah, north of Jerusalem to meet Monday with Abbas and other Palestinian officials. She said moves by Abbas to deploy troops in Gaza to deter rocket attacks against Israel, and to work with the Sharon government, could herald a return to the stalled Middle East peace Road Map.

While not being specific, she has spoken of an early meeting of the Middle East quartet, which drafted the Road Map, the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. She has also said she would attend a March 1 meeting in London, aimed at organizing international support for the Palestinian Authority as it seeks to lay groundwork for statehood.

Rice arrived in Israel Sunday and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, where she placed a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance and signed the guest book of the Children's Memorial.

She then showered praise on the new PA leadership, stating it has "expressed its desire for a peaceful future with Israel." Rice declared: "We will ask of our partners and our friends in Israel that Israel continue to make the hard decisions that must be taken in order to promote peace and.... the emergence of a democratic Palestinian state."

During her meeting with Foreign Minister Shalom in Jerusalem, she called on Israel to refrain from taking any unilateral steps that might compromise Abbas' position in the PA - expressing the sensitivities surrounding Jerusalem, which the PA claims as the capital of its future state. Rice's statements have significant impact pertaining to the Absentee Property Law, which elicited a U.S. response of concern and disapproval, fearing Israel was preparing to take steps to create facts on the ground in predominately Arab areas of the capital.

According to Channel 2 TV news, Shalom told Rice after their meeting, "If the Palestinians do not do everything to halt the smuggling of weapons through tunnels, close the tunnels, close the weapons workshops, gather up illegal weapons - we would simply be giving the violent groups time to regroup and then carry out terror attacks that could collapse the whole process."

Rice is scheduled to meet with Abbas and PA -Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei in Ramallah Monday.


Eichmann's Men Worked for CIA After War

By IsraelNationalNews.com

The CIA employed at least five former associates of Adolph Eichmann after World War II. So disclosed the National Security Archive, a private organization working out of Washington, D.C.

Eichmann was responsible for implementing Hitler's "final solution" for European Jewry and devised and supervised the plan for systematically executing millions of Jews during the war. He later escaped to Argentina, from where he was secretly abducted by Israeli security forces and brought to Israel, and was executed in 1962.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying; "It's a tragedy the U.S. chose to use some of Hitler's henchmen in the aftermath of the war." He welcomed the revelations, though he noted that the CIA's relationship with former Nazis has been known for a long time. "It's definitely high time that documents concerning this practice be revealed and researchers be granted access to them. It's a shame these documents weren't released earlier," when the people involved could possibly have been brought to justice.

Other former Nazis known to have been employed by the CIA include Reinhard Gehlen, head of German intelligence for the eastern front during the war. Gehlen gave the CIA access to an intelligence network maintained by known Nazi war criminals, including at least 100 former Gestapo officials.

The National Security Archive revealed the information based on documents obtained through the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. Former Congresswomen Elizabeth Holtzmen of New York, a member of a committee set up to implement the disclosure act, severely criticized the lack of CIA cooperation in the past. "I think that the CIA has defied the law," she told The New York Times, "and in so doing has also trivialized the Holocaust, thumbed its nose at the survivors of the Holocaust and also at the Americans who gave their lives in the effort to defeat the Nazis in World War II."

Mark Weitzman, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Task Force Against Hate and Terrorism, said, "It is imperative that our nation be honest about its relationship with the perpetrators of the Holocaust... [T] he C.I.A. still continues to sit on records relating to Nazis. The C.I.A. should be releasing these records to comply with U.S. law, to comply with our obligation as a member of the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, which includes the commitment to opening archives relating to the Holocaust, and to the citizens of the U.S. It is important to find out the extent and details of our cooperation with former Nazis to complete the historical record, to ensure that, if possible, justice be served, and to create a moral compass for the future."


Anti-Semitic Commercial pulled from Czech TV

By Ha'aretz

A commercial with a blatant anti-Semitic motif that is being broadcast on Czech public television has come under fire from Israelis and Jews in the republic. Following protests, the advertisers announced they would stop broadcasting the ad on Monday.

Mountfield, a company marketing home and garden products, produced the ad. Broadcast on both Czech public TV channels, the ad shows a customer wishing to buy a saw for less than its listed price. When the vendor refuses, the customer dresses up as an ultra-Orthodox Jew and manages to bargain with the vendor until he gives him an 80 percent discount. At the end of the scene, the "ultra-Orthodox" customer leaves mumbling to himself "80 percent off ... that's not such a big deal."

The Israeli ambassador in the Czech Republic, Arthur Avnon, and the curator of the Jewish Museum in Prague, Leo Pavlat, demanded that Mountfield pull the ad. A company spokesman said over the weekend that "at the request of Israel's ambassador," the ad would be pulled Monday.

The spokesman refused to apologize, saying the ad was intended to describe the "positive aspects" of a skillful Jewish merchant - a figure frequently described in literature, the company said - "to show customers how to best take advantage of company reductions."


Electronic Field Trip to Focus on the Decisions That Led to the Holocaust Israel News Faxx Staff Report

Students across the country will explore the Nazi rise to power and how countless individuals - traditionally relied upon to uphold the public good - became active participants in civil rights violations and mass murder when Ball State University hosts its next E3 Electronic Field Trip Feb. 15.

"The Holocaust Museum Experience: Exploring Our Daily Decision Making" was developed by Ball State's Teachers College in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The guides will use artifacts and stories from the museum's permanent exhibition, "The Holocaust," and will allow students to tour the museum and interact with experienced museum educators.

"This will be one of our most engaging and personal electronic field trips," said Mark Kornmann, director of Teachers College outreach services. "Students are going to be challenged to reflect on their daily decisions and the consequences of such choices."

The field trip will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the closing of Auschwitz, the most infamous Nazi 'death factory.' The live, interactive field trip will air at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST. The broadcasts, which are anticipated to reach more than 15 million viewers in 45 states, will follow up the debut of E3's inclusion in a National Captioning Institute federal grant. Throughout the broadcast, viewers will be able to call in with questions or submit them online in a live discussion forum. Viewers can register to receive the Internet broadcast at www.bsu.edu/eft/holocaust or check local cable and PBS listings.


'Savta, You Have a Sister!'

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Thanks to Yad Vashem's Holocaust Victims' Database, and the dedication of a concerned granddaughter, two sisters separated during the Holocaust and unaware of the other's existence were reunited last week.

Merav Zamir visited Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum on Thursday, reported Yediot Achronot, and decided to check on the status of the "testimony" page she had filled out for her grandmother, 78-year-old Chana Katz. In a spontaneous decision, she also asked the Yad Vashem staff if her grandmother had any relatives - though it was widely "known" in the family that she was her family's only survivor.

They searched under the name of Sheindel Waiss, Chana's mother, and to their surprise, they found a match - another woman living in Israel who filled out a form saying that she was Sheindel's daughter. The names of the siblings and towns matched, and Merav realized that "we were on to something big. My head started spinning. I told my husband, Savta [grandmother] has a sister!"

Merav said that she traveled straight to her grandmother's home: "I didn't quite known how to tell her the news, so I decided to jokingly ask, 'What would you give me if I told you you had a sister?' She at first didn't understand, and then she started crying, "Where is she? Let's see her!"

When they called Clara, three years older than Chana, she at first didn't believe, and then wished to put off the meeting until Sunday. But Chana couldn't wait, and she had her granddaughter drive her to Rishon LeTzion to meet Clara on Thursday. Many other members of the extended family joined in for the next day's meeting,. "There's been a lot of crying and laughing, it's a tremendous feeling," Merav told Army Radio. "I recommend that everyone fill out these Yad Vashem forms; I would hope that everyone could have such a feeling as we have had these last few days."

The two sisters last saw each other in 1944 in the Budapest ghetto, where Clara remained after the Germans captured Chana. Clara made her way to what was to become Israel via Cyprus after living in a ghetto for a while, while Chana's arrival in Israel followed her detention in the Mauthausen concentration camp.

Once in Israel, Chana tried to follow up on rumors that her older sister had come to a kibbutz: "I turned to the Jewish Agency, and the Joint, and looked at all sorts of lists. When Yad Vashem was finally established, their lists were not organized. All my searches turned up nothing." Both sisters now have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but they are making plans to spend the Passover Seder together in April. "The way you call Mom, Mom, I call God, God," Chana told The New York Times. "But this just shows you that God doesn't close all the doors."

Some 3.3 million people have accessed Yad Vashem's database since it was launched last November. A spokesperson for Yad Vashem told Arutz-7 that there have been about 15 cases of long-long cousins or children of cousins finding each other via the database. "This is the first instance of such a dramatic case of actual sisters finding each other," she said.


Dramatic Rise in Aliyah from North America and Western Europe

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Aliyah from North America and Western Europe has jumped dramatically over the past year, as aliyah from the former Soviet bloc has dropped. Statistics released by the Jewish Agency at a press conference Sunday showed that North American aliyah has climbed to its highest level in 20 years with 2,640 Jews arriving this year, an 11% jump from last year's levels. Aliyah from Western Europe has shot up by 13% in 2004, a figure that includes 2,415 new immigrants from France, a 16% rise over the previous year.

Salai Meridor, head of the Jewish Agency, said that he expects a 30% increase in aliyah from North America over the coming year due to what he described as a general improvement in Israel and an intensified effort to promote immigration in Jewish populated areas.

Another bright spot in 2004 was an upsurge in visits via the Birthright program, which provides free 10-day trips to Israel for young Jews who have never visited Israel on an organized trip. Birthright reported 34,000 visits in 2004, rising above the level reached prior to the outbreak of the "intifada" in 2000.

Low rates of aliyah were reported for the former Soviet bloc countries as the massive aliyah of the 1990s gathered most of the potential from these areas. Jewish immigration to Germany was also a factor in this year's drop in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc. Jewish Agency officials, however, expect a resurgence in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc, as Germany tightens its immigration standards in 2006 when only Jews under the age of 45, and familiar with the German language would be allowed to immigrate. The drop in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc was the main reason for an overall decline in aliyah to Israel in 2004 of 9.5%.

The Jewish Agency is also expecting a rise in aliyah from Ethiopia based on the government's recent decision to double the rate of Falash Mura immigration from 300 to 600 per month. Meridor said the pool of Falash Mura immigrants total between 15,000 to 20,000 people. The Falash Mura are descended from Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity.

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