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Rice Denies U.S. Supports Israeli Attack on Iran


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday denied a report that the U.S. government has agreed to an Israeli plan to bomb Iran's nuclear facility if diplomatic efforts fail to halt construction of the plant. Rice told ABC News that the U.S. believes the diplomatic course will succeed. A London newspaper reported Sunday that the American government had approved an Israeli inner cabinet plan for an air and ground attack on the nuclear site. However, Rice repeated a statement made last month by President George W. Bush that "all options" are open.

Civil Disobedience Against Disengagement Blocks Tel Aviv Artery


Anti-expulsion protesters successfully blocked the Ayalon Highway at the busy Kibbutz Galuyot junction for nearly an hour during Monday evening's rush hour.

The protesters, who blocked the Tel Aviv area highway in both directions, were even joined by some motorists who were stuck in the traffic. Others responded violently toward the protesters, who distributed flyers explaining to drivers that while they apologize for the disruption, life cannot continue as usual while Jews face expulsion from their homes and a terror state is being created.

Police eventually arrived at the scene, including the notoriously violent Yassam unit, and violently arrested 20 of the protesters, while most of the groups dispersed. "The precision and organization of the more than a hundred people who took part in this was incredible," one participant told Arutz-7. "We were in the street for about 30 minutes before any police or press even arrived."

The protester, a non-observant Jew, said that he was alarmed at the fact that news photographers and cameramen refused to take pictures of him because he was not wearing a kippah (skull cap), focusing instead on protesters who were visibly religious. "I think the aspect of this protest most obscured by the media is that it crossed boundaries. Even drivers, stuck in traffic, got out of their car and bodily protected protesters from police brutality."

The protesters were disciplined and didn't lose their cool, he said. "There was not a shred of violence on the part of the protesters, who had agreed amongst themselves in advance to disburse once the police arrived."

Tel Aviv Police Chief David Tzur told Channel One TV that it was very difficult for police to get to the site and extinguish the tires. "Tonight demonstrated that if protesters want to block major highways in Israel, it is impossible to stop them," he said. A number of major traffic routes around the country have been blocked by anti-disengagement demonstrations in recent weeks.

And in related news, the IDF has issued a new document, which calls for tough and quick punishment of soldiers who refuse to follow orders. Officers who are found guilty of the offense will be stripped of their rank and may find themselves facing a military court. The army also plans a publicity campaign and will offer support for soldiers who feel they are in a conflict by having to follow orders against their conscience. The document represents acknowledgement by the military that the incidents of soldiers refusing orders no longer are isolated.

Annan Meets Palestinian, Israeli Leaders

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has discussed reviving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Their meeting came amid more controversy over Israel's so-called barrier in the West Bank.

Annan said he was encouraged by recent developments in the peace process, but expressed concern about the controversial barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution against the barrier and the International Court of Justice has ruled it to be illegal.

The secretary general said he is committed to seeing all U.N. resolutions implemented. "If I am here today, and I am also a member of the Quarter, and I am talking to the Israeli government and to the Palestinian president, it is really in an attempt to implement those resolutions," said Annan, adding that the world body is assessing the property damage that has resulted from the construction of the barrier and is creating a register to record damage claims.

Palestinian police restrained hundreds of anti-barrier protesters who had gathered outside the government compound in Ramallah where Annan met with Abbas. Annan met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday to encourage peace efforts with the Palestinians.

In a meeting of senior cabinet ministers late Sunday, Sharon approved the final route of the barrier around Jerusalem to include the nearby largest Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim on the Israeli side. The decision also incorporates land claimed by Palestinians for a future state, including Arab east Jerusalem. The barrier will also divide parts of Bethlehem in order to encompass a Jewish shrine located in the town.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minster Shaul Mofaz is to meet with Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Youssef to discuss the deadlock over the long-delayed hand-over of several West Bank towns from Israeli to Palestinian control. The hand-over was to begin with Jericho, but talks broke down last week when Israel said it would not dismantle a roadblock outside Jericho that the Palestinians want removed. The Israeli Cabinet also decided Sunday to dismantle 24 settlement outposts that were built in violation of the internationally backed peace plan.

U.S. Intelligence Takeover of Palestinian Authority

By DEBKAfile (Copyright 2000-2005)

Prime minister Ariel Sharon informed the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday that unauthorized West Bank outposts would be dismantled "as part of Israel's commitment to the Middle East roadmap." The roadmap demands that Israel destroy all outposts erected after March 2001, though not in the first instance.

This is the first intimation that the Israeli prime minister has launched into implementation of the "performance-based" roadmap, a sharp policy change that is not on record as having obtained government approval. Until now, Israel's leaders insisted on the Palestinian side first meeting the roadmap's initial mandatory demand "to undertake the immediate and unconditional cessation of violence and armed activity against Israelis everywhere" and "effective operations aimed at dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."

DEBKAfile's Washington sources interpret Sharon's statement as meaning he is ready to move on to Stage B of his disengagement plan, namely the removal of unauthorized outposts on the West Bank. What President George W. Bush wants to hear when Sharon arrives for their White House meeting on April 12 is a timetable for Stage B and then Stage C for other parts of the West Bank, so as to clear the way for progress towards "a viable, contiguous Palestinian state."

Bush has accepted the difficulty of accomplishing the destruction of the outposts in conjunction with the daunting and divisive project of evacuating 21 thriving Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank. This project will strain every last police, military, political and emotional national resource. But as DEBKAfile revealed on Dec. 17, 2004 (Sudden Discord between Bush and Sharon), after the outposts are disposed of, the prime minister will be confronted with demands for a timeline for the next stage, including for example the Israeli West Bank town of Ariel and other locations left unenclosed by the security fence.

The Sharon government and the country face more agonizing debate on those far larger and more emotionally charged olden Land of Israel locations where at least 250,000 Jews live. The first spark of controversy has been ignited, arising out of the decision to build by July a temporary barrier to protect Jerusalem against suicide bombing attempts from the West Bank, which though thwarted till now have become an almost weekly occurrence. One deputy minister, Likud's Ehud Olmert, reported the barrier would enclose all parts of Jerusalem, including the eastern districts, as well as the neighboring town of Maaleh Adummum to the east and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem to the south. It will have eleven police-manned gateways. Olmert called the town and its 35,000 inhabitants "an integral part of Israel."

Sharon's other deputy, Labor's Shimon Peres, stepped in to claim the fate of the town was still undecided. The arguments over more evocative West Bank locations could be crippling. Sunday's cabinet meeting thanked Talia Sasson, former member of the state prosecution, for her report, without going so far as endorsing it. She judged that 105 West Bank outposts had been illegally licensed and funded by one Israeli government after another, including two led by Labor as well as the incumbent administration.

A ministerial panel was appointed to set out approval procedures for outposts and legal measures against wildcat activity. But the team was denied authority to implement the Sasson recommendations. Such decisions would have to be political because of the legal difficulty of retroactively declaring unlawful actions that were duly authorized at the time they were taken

Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not be impressed by any legalistic quibbling or the national controversy polarizing Israel. What the Bush administration is after is swift action without further procrastination. Administration leaders seem to be treating Israel's pullback from the Gaza Strip and West Bank in the same spirit as their insistence on complete Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon. It is possible to conjure up a grand design charted by the Bush administration to simultaneously squeeze Israel and Syria into sharply constricted molds sized by its perception of the two nations' true dimensions.

This was not admitted by defense minister Shaul Mofaz when he decided to compress the July disengagements into one month instead of two, which he explained by the necessity of curtailing "confrontation, emotional rhetoric and violence." He thus implicitly stigmatized the settlers rather than disclosing the true reason for his haste: an unequivocal American demand to get moving on disengagement and get it over in no more than a month after the July 17 Palestinian parliamentary vote, i.e. by August 20-25 - a change that overrides a previous cabinet decision to carry out the withdrawals in four well-spaced stages, each carefully considered before implementation.

The prominence afforded the outpost report and the decision to abbreviate the evacuation period paradoxically conceals their rationale, namely, the unfolding new reality that produced them both. These are some of the facts of this reality:

Last week, Lt. Gen William Ward, the newly appointed U.S. security coordinator for Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians, secretly moved into heavily guarded offices in central Tel Aviv, according to DEBKAfile's exclusive military sources - although Rice stated in London last week that he would not relocate to the Middle East. The general settled in with a large team of tens of American officers. The four governments concerned were informed from Washington that Gen. Ward was to be their address for communications to the U.S. government.

This makes the new coordinator a kind of buffer or wall of separation dividing the four governments involved in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute from Washington. For Israel, this is tantamount to downgrading the Jerusalem-Washington relationship. DEBKAfile's Washington sources reveal that the American general was sent post haste to Tel Aviv to take charge of the intelligence pincer already at work on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Gaza Strip Arm went into action several weeks ago in total hush. An Egyptian military intelligence delegation led by the head of the Palestinian desk at Egyptian intelligence, Gen. Ibrahim Bakhri, took up position in the territory. Operating in conjunction with the Egyptians and from the same offices is a British MI6 Secret Service mission of 25 agents. They share the task of bringing under control the assorted Palestinian intelligence and security bodies. For Palestinian liaison, they have been provided with Gaza strongman Mohammad Dahlan. The fact that Israeli authorities have allowed the two Gaza-based groups free rein without curbs or interference is the true reason for the sudden blossoming of a warm friendship between Cairo and Jerusalem and Israel's willingness to withdraw from the flashpoint Philadelphi border strip.

Keeping this secret operation ticking over smoothly was discussed at length between Hosni Mubarak and his visitor, Mofaz, last week in Sharm al-Sheikh. The West Bank Arm is run by a Jordanian military intelligence group working with an American CIA team. The Jordanian group leader is Gen. Abdallah Khayar who is based in Amman. His Palestinian contact is Jibril Rajoub.

Now that the two structures are up and running, Washington wants Israel to accelerate its withdrawal for three reasons: Abu Mazen's durability as Palestinian leader is an open question given his political and personal weakness; When Sharon first came up with his disengagement plan, Arafat was still in the driving seat and no one envisaged the Hamas terrorist movement rising to power through the ballot box and replacing Abbas with an unknown face. This development may well negate the plan and other future withdrawals; and the White House is determined to prove its even-handedness to the Arab world and is therefore simultaneously pressing Syrian President Bashar Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon for withdrawals.

To keep popular minds and discourse off these developments, Sharon arranged for the Sasson outpost report and the evacuation decision to come to light at this time.

Book Reveals: New York Times Buried Holocaust News


The New York Times consistently buried Holocaust news in its back pages and downplayed the victims' Jewish identity. So states the first scholarly study of how the Times covered the Nazi genocide. "Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper," by Prof. Laurel Leff, has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

Among the book's key findings, according to The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, are the following:

Holocaust news was consistently relegated to the Times' back pages. Of the 1,186 articles that the Times published during 1939-1945 about Europe's Jews, only 26 (about 2 percent) of them appeared on the front page, and even those articles "obscured the fact that most of the victims were Jews."

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, an assimilated Jew of German descent, feared that the newspaper would be engaging in special pleading and thus deliberately downplayed news of the Holocaust and the Jewish identity of the victims.

The Times only rarely published editorials about the annihilation of Europe's Jews, and only once ran a lead editorial about the Nazi genocide.

Because of its importance, the Times helped set the tone for the rest of the media's coverage of Holocaust news; the Times "might have been able to help bring the facts about the extermination of the Jews to public consciousness ... [instead,] the Times helped drown out the last cry from the abyss." When the Nazi death camps were liberated, the Times' coverage downplayed the fact that the victims and survivors were overwhelmingly Jews.

Author Leff, a former reporter and editor who teaches journalism at Northeastern University, is a leading member of the Academic Council of The Wyman Institute. The Wyman Institute is organizing Leff's speaking appearances around the United States.

Stuart Eizenstat, formerly the U.S. ambassador for Holocaust-era issues, called the book "engrossing and important," adding, "One can only wonder in great sorrow how many lives might have been saved if the nation's and the world's conscience had been touched by full and complete coverage by the Times of what remains the greatest crime of world history."

Marvin Kalb, elder statesman of American journalism, said that Buried by The Times "stands tall in scholarship, style and importance ... it is an exceptional study of one of the darkest failures of the New York Times..."

Prof. David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews, praised Buried by the Times as "the best book yet about American media coverage of the Holocaust, and an extremely important contribution to our understanding of America's response to the mass murder of the Jews."

The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located on the campus of Gratz College near Philadelphia, is a research and education institute focusing on America's response to the Holocaust.

New Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum Opens Tuesday


Yad Vashem will be opening a new history museum to replace the one that has always been the centerpiece of the institution. Foreign leaders from around the world will be in attendance.

Government leaders and dignitaries from at least 15 countries, as well as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will join Israeli President Moshe Katzav, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Education Minister Limor Livnat in inaugurating the new museum Tuesday. They will then participate in a special assembly at Yad Vashem Wednesday morning, entitled, "Remembering the Past, Shaping the Future." The new museum is set to open to the public at the end of March.

The New Holocaust History Museum, which will emphasize the human narrative aspects of the Nazi Holocaust, has been 10 years in the making. It has two dimensions: informational and experiential. Yad Vashem announces that the new museum will use many artifacts in telling the story, together with the documentary element familiar in the current museum. It will try to tell both the macro story and the micro stories of individuals and small groups, stressing the personal story in the historical and thematic narrative.

The New Holocaust History Museum covers some 4,200 square meters, or just over an acre - four times the size of the current Historical Museum. Yad Vashem will use the new museum as its main platform for imparting the Holocaust legacy to visitors. According to the Yad Vashem announcement, the victims are the focus, instead of being portrayed as anonymous objects being acted upon by their persecutors, and visitors will leave with a wider perspective on the protection of humanity's basic values and Jewish continuity. Specifically, the Museum weaves more than 90 personal stories into a thematic and historical narrative, using authentic artifacts, testimonies, documentary evidence, archival sources, films, art and even music.

World-renowned architect Moshe Safdie designed a unique building for the new museum. "The story of the Holocaust has no equal," Safdie said. "I felt that it couldn't be accommodated in a conventional building. I wanted it to be like an archeological remnant. Responding to Yad Vashem's request to preserve the pastoral character of the Mount of Remembrance, and that the Hall of Remembrance maintain its centrality, I conceived of a prism-like structure that cuts through the mountain from the south, extending 200 meters to the north."

At the end of the Museum's historical narrative is the Hall of Names - a repository for the Pages of Testimony of millions of Holocaust victims, a memorial to those who perished. In a separate room, visitors can conduct searches of the digitized Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names (also online at

Visitors enter the Hall in the circular space between two reciprocal cones onto an elevated ring-shaped platform between them. Surrounding the platform is the circular repository, housing the Pages of Testimony collected so far, with empty spaces for testimonies not yet submitted - room for six million Pages in total.

A basic guideline for the museum's design was to create a visitor's route dictated by the evolving narrative. As such, Safdie devised a central walkway (prism) with underground exhibition galleries on either side. The visitor is guided into the adjacent galleries by a series of impassable gaps, created by museum designer Dorit Harel, extending along the breadth of the prism floor. Displaying items from different events, the gaps symbolize turning points in the Holocaust, and serve as chapter headings for the evolving narrative of the exhibition. Subtly illuminated by skylights, nine chapters (galleries) depict the history of the Holocaust through exclusive exhibits and new presentation techniques.

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