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10,000 Activists to Temple Mount in April


On Sunday, April 10, the first day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, Revava - a grassroots Jewish organization - plans to bring 10,000 Jews to the heavily restricted Temple Mount, in order, organizers say, "to spark Israeli dialogue about reclaiming the holy site from its Muslim custodians." "We're talking about our civil and religious right to have access to the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is the single holiest place in the world for Jews. It's time the Israeli government restores control to the rightful owners-the Jewish people," said David Ha'ivri, chairman of Revava.

Sharon's Disengagement Plan Clears Parliamentary Hurdle

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's controversial disengagement plan from settlements in Gaza and the West Bank cleared another hurdle in parliament Monday, after opponents failed to secure enough votes for a national referendum on the pullout. After a heated and, at times, tumultuous debate, Israel's parliament, the Knesset, defeated a proposal to submit the Sharon plan to a nationwide referendum.

Sharon considers calls for a vote on his disengagement plan as a delaying tactic. While it was expected that the proposal would not pass in the legislature, it was a serious concern for the government, since Sharon's main coalition partner, the Labor Party, has warned it would quit the government if a referendum were approved. Labor is a staunch supporter of the Gaza withdrawal. In the end, the motion was defeated 72-39, with the help of the opposition Labor and Shinui parties, along with the ultra-Orthodox religious party, Shas.

On Monday, Uzi Landau a leading opponent of the Gaza withdrawal tried, unsuccessfully, to get the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party to support the referendum. Shas controls 11 seats in the 120-member parliament. Their leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, opposes a Gaza withdrawal, but he also opposes holding a referendum, fearing it would set a precedent, and could be used in the future by Israel's secular majority against the ultra-Orthodox minority. The proposed dismantling of all 21 Gaza settlements and four in the West Bank this summer has split Sharon's Likud Party.

Binyamin Netanyahu met personally with Rabbi Yosef last week in an effort to convince him to vote in favor of the bill. Sharon indirectly attacked Netanyahu at Sunday's cabinet meeting. Referring indirectly to Netanyahu's meeting with the elderly rabbi, Sharon said, "Last week we saw an attempt [to topple the government]. It pains me that because of internal interests, political relations are being vandalized. Don't be concerned about what's happening outside the country, worry about what's happening here. It seems that all restraints have been removed." Sharon added: "We're seeing again and again attempts to topple the government that keep returning with timing that is not coincidental."

In the wake of the Knesset voting down the referendum, Mishalot Yisrael, an organization formed to promote a grassroots referendum, will be formally launching Tuesday what organization chairman Dr. Moshe Ben Israel called an "independent referendum... to save Israel." He said, "The Sharon/Peres government will lose all credibility, legitimacy and right to govern if they refuse to adopt the results of our referendum. We will force them to listen to the will of the people and to the wishes of the nation of Israel. They can run away from making a fair and official government referendum, but they can not hide from the results of the referendum that we are currently holding to save Israel."

Knesset Member Eldad: The Jewish People May Sue State of Israel


"Without Zionism, the country condemns itself to become as fleeting as the Crusaders' rule of Jerusalem." So warned MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad (National Union) at the Jerusalem Conference Monday. "Zionism was founded due to the urgent need for a solution for a people scattered throughout the nations. Due to the urgent need for a homeland, they pushed off the problem of ending foreign rule over the areas of the Jewish homeland."

Eldad was speaking at a plenary discussion entitled, "A New National Agenda: The State of Israel As A Jewish-Zionist State In The Post-Zionist Age" at the Jerusalem Conference in the Regency Hotel in Jerusalem. He said that the "forefathers of Zionism" had no doubts regarding the Jewish right to the Land of Israel, but put off asserting complete Jewish hegemony due to outside influences. "But now," he said, "the pragmatism of 'painful concessions' has been transformed into the ideal, and our absolute right to the Land of Israel has been turned into a weak argument."

He said that the results of this transformation are already on display by the Jewish State. He cited the expulsion of Jews from their land and the selling of Jewish National Fund land to Arabs as two such examples. "It is only a matter of time until the Jewish People will have to sue the State of Israel for selling off national lands bought by Jewish communities," he said, "who collected the money cent by cent."

Eldad also condemned the fact that Arabic remains Israel's national language alongside Hebrew. "They simply erased English when the British left and left Hebrew and Arabic," he said. "It needs to be made clear that the official language of the State of Israel is only Hebrew. The Arabs now seek to add a crescent to the state's national symbols in their struggle to erase Judaism from the State of Israel."

Pre-War Jewish Property Now Worth $30 Billion

By Ha'aretz

The Jewish property left in Poland on the eve of World War II is today worth more than $30 billion, according to a comprehensive report drawn up at the request of the Israeli government. The estimate does not include communal buildings and facilities held by the various Jewish communities in different parts of Poland. The report was drawn up by experts from the government, the business sector and non-profit and non-governmental organizations. Some 10 percent of Poland's population was Jewish before the Holocaust.

The report relates not only to the value of the property but also to its legal status, and proposes to the government how to proceed. It will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of the ministerial committee on returning Jewish property. The Foreign Ministry is opposed to explicit government intervention in returning Jewish property in Eastern Europe, saying it could affect ties with these countries, particularly with Poland.

The government approved a proposal by Diaspora Affairs Minister Natan Sharansky at the end of 2003 to set up under his leadership a ministerial committee on the subject. A steering committee, headed by Sharansky's adviser on Jewish property affairs, subsequently heard historians, legal experts and representatives of Jewish organizations, and examined archival material in various places including Yad Vashem and in Poland.

According to a source close to the committee, many of the Polish Jews were very wealthy. "They controlled the oil and textile industries, and held expensive properties, many of which are now in the downtown areas of the cities," the source said.

The Hebrew daily Ma'ariv reported Monday that the Polish government had proposed a new draft law permitting heirs to receive 15 percent of the worth of their property. Sources said it was unlikely that the law would be approved, and that the sum was insufficient, but expressed satisfaction that such a precedent had been set.

Since 90 percent of Polish Jewry perished in the Holocaust, it was unlikely that there would be many heirs, they said, and therefore a joint Jewish body should be set up and recognized as representing the Jewish people, as had been done in Germany. Foreign Ministry sources said that the issue of returning property is a very sensitive one in Polish society today, and should be handled by Jewish organizations rather than the Israeli government.

There is a great deal of tension over German demands for possible restitution for German citizens who were forced to leave Poland, they said. However, the former Israeli ambassador to Poland, Shevah Weiss, said Monday that there was a strong moral responsibility to return the property to the Jews of Poland. "I don't believe the Poles will break off diplomatic relations over this moral issue," he said, "particularly in light of the fact that the elite in Poland certainly has an awareness of the issue and the readiness to make amends."

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