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30 Heads of State to Attend Yad Vashem Opening


Thirty heads of state are expected to attend the opening of the new Yad Vashem memorial museum in Jerusalem, commemorating the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazi Germans and their collaborators during World War II. The new, state-of-the-art museum, designed to preserve the memory of the Holocaust into the next generation as survivors succumb to age, will host the largest gathering of world leaders to be held in Israel held in many years. The new museum, which cost $40 million to build, will be inaugurated officially on March 15, and open its doors to the public on March 27.

Gaza's Jews Rush to Accommodate Expected Influx of Residents


A new initiative seeks to provide housing for the hundreds of individuals and families who want to move to Gush Katif to strengthen veteran Jewish residents in the face of expulsion.

In recent months people who want to move there have inundated the communities of Gush Katif with requests. This despite the fact that according to the expulsion/compensation legislation they would not be compensated for the destruction of their property if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan is implemented. While aides to Sharon have confided that the plan largely relies on inducing the willful evacuation by the residents before a forced expulsion begins, the exact opposite seems to be happening.

The Gaza Jewish community has now made a list of all vacant housing units and structures in various states of repair and stages of construction throughout the region. They found some 260 potential housing units in various stages of readiness that they hope to make available to those who wish to make Gush Katif their home. Renovations are already underway.

Datiya Yitzhaki, one of the organizers behind the initiative, called by the Hebrew acronym Kayla, which stands for Absorption to the Gaza Region, spoke with Israel National Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday. "Our idea is to bring as many people as we can to live in the Gaza region alongside the residents who have lived here for a long time already and withstood many harsh conditions, in order to strengthen them during this critical time and deliver a most powerful message to Arik Sharon," said Yitzhaki.

According to Yitzhaki, all sorts of accommodations are available in most of the 21 religious, non-religious and mixed communities throughout the Gaza coast. "Some units are available for rent and are completely furnished. There are also caravans that are completely empty which we are trying to outfit with basic furniture and appliances for young couples."

The influx of new residents, which Kayla expects to fill Gush Katif to residential capacity, is only part of a two-pronged plan to flood Gaza with idealistic activists. "We are talking about two stages," said Yitzhaki. "The first stage is the actual absorption of the long list of would-be residents into the communities that exist today. After Pesach, however, we will invite hundreds of thousands of people to come move here and camp out on the beaches, parks and every empty space around Gush Katif," she said.

Yitzhaki brushed off fears of arrest as a factor that would keep people from flocking to Gush Katif prior to a withdrawal. "So far we have a team of over 60 of Israel's top lawyers supporting our struggle in various ways. They meet regularly to devise legal ways to thwart the plan and they will be around in the future to advise and help out those with legal difficulties as well."

Yitzhaki is aware of the government's plans to try to prevent people from joining the residents, but believes they can be bypassed with advanced planning. "We are quickly trying to get as many people as we can to officially change their addresses to Gush Katif, because unfortunately, the government is trying to block the possibility of people moving here, even though no part of the disengagement plan bans people from moving here now." Those wishing to make the move should move fast, though. "Every day counts - the sooner people decide to come here the more likely they will be allowed to enter," Yitzhaki said.

Yitzhaki said the drive to populate the communities is not just aimed at thwarting the expulsion of Gaza's Jewish communities this summer. "We are looking for families and young people to move here because we are looking past the disengagement toward families who will fall in love with our beautiful part of the Land of Israel and stay with us after this plan fails."

Israel National Radio asked Yitzhaki what "people who support the Jews of Gaza but work in far away cities like Haifa, for example, can do to help?" "Activism on behalf of the Jews of Gaza is not limited to moving there," Yitzhaki said. "We have people all across Israel that when we, God forbid, get to a critical stage, will paralyze the entire country. So if you can't come to Gush Katif itself then you can certainly take part in those localized activities in which the nation of Israel as one will declare that what Ariel Sharon wants to do is committing suicide for the Jewish future."

Asked by Yonah what Jewish and non-Jewish lovers of Zion outside Israel could do to help, Yitzhaki said, "They can contact us. We had one Christian man who is a graphic designer who told us he wanted to help out and he has designed many things for us from his home in America." Datiya Yitzhaki can be reached at the office of the Gaza Absorption Center. Outside Israel: 972 8 684 7048.

Ten Thousand To Temple Mount Initiative Launched


Tapuach resident David Ivry Sunday unveiled a new initiative to reconnect Jews with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Ivry has launched a "ten Thousand to the Temple Mount" campaign to persuade 10,000 Jews to make a pilgrimage to the Temple Mount. The pilgrimage is planned for the beginning of the month of Nissan.

Traditionally, Nissan was a month when Jews would come from all over Israel as part of a biblical commandment to show their faces three times a year on the holidays of Pesach, Shavuot and Succoth. In recent years there have been numerous attempts to bring large numbers of Jews onto the mount. However these groups, most notably Gershon Salomon's Temple Mount Faithful have been consistently refused entrance on the grounds of security concerns The Temple Mount is the holiest site to the Jewish People, hosting both the First and Second Temples and will be the site of the Third and permanent Temple in the future.

Mofaz: IDF Mulls Shortening Conscription Time for Male Draftees

By Ha'aretz and Itim

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday that should the security situation continue to improve, then it is possible to reconsider a proposal to shorten service time for conscripted males in the Israel Defense Forces, perhaps by as much as six months. In remarks made during an appearance at an assembly at Tel Aviv University, Mofaz said that the Defense Ministry was examining the issue. "I hope that we can reach such a situation," the defense minister said of the proposal.

Following the withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to study a proposed cut in service time for male conscripts by four to six months. The plan, however, was shelved due to the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada in September 2000.

Mofaz hinted that should the current calm continue on the Palestinian front, the plan could be reconsidered. As such, the defense minister is convinced that granting benefits to reserve soldiers, who were recently granted sooner release from service (they are required to serve until age 40), is currently a higher priority than the issue of regular conscripts.

In July 2004, Ha'aretz reported that the manpower department in the General Staff was weighing a plan to cut compulsory service for conscripts by as much as 20 percent, or the equivalent of six months to one year. The intention was to carry out "a differentiation of the tracks of service," namely to cut the service time for soldiers in positions considered less essential. Soldiers who will be required to fully serve out their term would receive a considerable bump in salary. That proposal has yet to be approved.

In his appearance, Mofaz said he supports the "people's army" model, adding that compulsory service for all citizens should be preserved. The defense minister said it would not be feasible for Israel to adopt a model of military conscription that is accepted in other western nations. He condemned evasion of military service, particularly the legitimacy with which it is received in certain segments of society.

Study: Young American Jews Ambivalent Toward Israel

By Ha'aretz

"The attachment of American Jews to Israel has weakened measurably in the last two years," according to a study carried out by Prof. Steven Cohen of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a leading researcher of United States Jewry.

The study was conducted using identical questionnaires circulated during 2002 and also 2004 among 1,448 Jewish families, and was funded by the Jewish-Zionist Education Department of the Jewish Agency. Cohen's findings, published late last week, reinforce findings suggesting that there is a drop in support for Israel among U.S. Jews, especially among youth and university students.

Unlike many in the American Jewish community, Cohen does not believe that the declining support stems from opposition to Israeli policies in the territories but rather from the lull, which has descended recently over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The findings show a 15-20 percent drop between 2002 and 2004 in nearly all the indicators measuring emotional attachment to Israel. Forty-three percent of those asked agreed with the statement that "Israel feels to me more about my parents' and grand-parents' generation than to me and my generation."

The timing of Cohen's second poll, conducted in December 2004 - during a relatively quiet period in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - may have had a significant impact on the question whether the intifada has been the main reason for the growing distance between American Jewry and Israel.

A number of researchers of U.S. Jews such as Prof. Shulamit Reinharz of Brandeis University argue that the conflict damaged the image of Israeli "purity" among American Jews and led many to distance themselves from the Jewish state. This view is echoed by Jewish university organizations, including Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, and the umbrella organization - Israel on Campus Coalition, who blame the intifada for a reduction in visits by American Jewish youth to Israel.

Cohen is reluctant to accept this thesis and says, "During the intifada years American Jews did visit Israel less but cared for it more. Today we see more visits but care much less." "In the distant past the Israelis were viewed as heroes, in the recent past as victims. Today they are neither heroes nor victims. Israel is increasingly viewed as boring and irrelevant to American Jewry." Cohen says that young American Jews have preserved their personal Jewish identity but not their collective one. He says that studies he has conducted showing stability in aspects of Jewish tradition and religious obligations confirm this.

Nigerian Scam Has Taken a New Twist
Israel News Faxx Services

Israel News Faxx received the following e-mail spam scam.

I am Mrs. Suha Arafat, the wife of Yasser (sic) Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris. Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.

You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government.

In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, more importantly when the woman is from a Christian background, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.

I have deposited the sum of $21 million with a Security financial firm in whose name is withheld for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safekeeping and Investment opportunity. This arrangement will be known to you and I alone and all our correspondence should be strictly on email alone because our government has tapped all my lines and are monitoring all my moves.

In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the $21,000,000 that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come off age and take full responsibility of her Family Estate/inheritance. Please, if you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care, as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children. In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith and send to me your complete personal contact information.

May God bless you and your household.

Yours sincerely,
Suha Arafat

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