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Sharon to Use German Armored Vehicle Despite Promises to the Contrary


Despite his recent public statements that he would not agree to be transported in Israel's newly acquired BMW armored sedans, officials are now indicating that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will join Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and others who are assigned the new state-of-the-art protective vehicles. Aides to the prime minister confirmed reports that the Shin Bet persuaded Sharon to agree to be driven in the German-manufactured vehicles, realizing the issue is one of security. They add that Sharon's office was not involved in the decision to purchase the BMW sedans and Mercedes Benz limousines at a price of between NIS 2 - 2.5 million each.

State Dept. Calls on Israel to "Foreswear" Nuclear Arms


In a move that could curtail Israeli power in the Middle East, the US is calling on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and forego the use and stockpile of nuclear weapons. Twice in the past two weeks, State Department officials have compared Israel's status as a nuclear power with that of India and Pakistan, calling on all three nations to give up their nuclear arms.

Two mid-level State Department Officials, ahead of the NPT Review Conference, scheduled to open in New York on May 2, made the statements. The purpose of the conference is to evaluate implementation of the NPT and determine its future course. The officials' comments regarding Israel's weapons capability were made, apparently, in order to put the issue of Israel's nukes on the conference's agenda. The comments appeared to deviate from Bush Administration policy, which up to now, refrained from using terminology that confirms Israel's status as a nuclear nation.

The State Department has often taken pro-Arab positions on the Arab-Israeli dispute over the years, and has been wary of projecting Israeli power in the Middle East. Sometimes the department's positions ostensibly contradict those of the president. For example, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently declared in two separate newspaper interviews that President Bush did not make any guarantees to Israel regarding Israel's right to retain certain settlement blocs as part of a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians. The president purported to make such promises to Israel in a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last spring, but the interpretation of Bush's statements have been the subject of much controversy, some of it spurred on by State Department officials.

U.S. Nervous Over Guarantees to Israel

By Emanuel A. Winston (Commentary)

There is a reason that President George Bush and collaborators in the dismemberment of Israel are American nervous over guarantees to Israel of defense in case of attack or money to "resettle the disengaged." Quite simply, they have no intention of keeping any of them - whether they be tacit, implicit, spoken or written.

This implied guarantee is somewhat like when, in 1922, Winston Churchill cut off 76% of what was originally supposed to be the Jewish Homeland to be closely settled by the Jewish people - according to the 1917 Balfour Declaration - ratified by the League of Nations and the American Congress. In 1922 then Colonial Secretary for Great Britain Churchill gave that 76% East of the Jordan River to Abdullah to be governor of what was "temporarily" cut off from the Jewish Homeland. (That lasted seven decades.)

Now called Jordan, Abdullah's great-grandson, King Abdullah, rules it. (In 1922 Churchill also succeeded in mapping out the rest of the Arab Middle East, along lines approved by the needs of Britain - with Iraq protected at the expense of Kuwait - which lead to the 1990 attack by Saddam Hussein of Kuwait starting the first of two Gulf Wars.)

Somewhere along the line Bush will say that everything from the 1948 U.N. division of Palestine - eastward - must go to the Arabs. He will say he was "misunderstood, misquoted or the situation has changed." He will betray Israel. American Jews revere George Bush almost as much as they did Franklin D. Roosevelt - even as he was collaborating (in a 'de facto' manner) with the same Winston Churchill to ensure that the death camps were kept operating and the ovens kept burning.

With oil prices so high - with the Bush family dynasty so friendly with the Saudis - with the multi-national oil corporations coining money at astronomical rates - clearly Israel must sacrifice herself "for the good of all."

Israelis and Palestinians Mourn the Pope

By VOA News &

Israelis and Palestinians are united in mourning the pope. They're hailing his efforts to achieve reconciliation and peace in the Holy Land. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opened the weekly Cabinet meeting with a tribute to the pope, describing him as a man of peace and a friend of the Jewish people.

"Pope John Paul II worked for a historic reconciliation between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church," Sharon said, adding that the pope also established diplomatic ties between the Vatican and the state of Israel. The prime minister said, "The world has lost one of the most important leaders of our time." Ehud Barak was prime minister when the pope made his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land five years ago. "The world lost a great spiritual leader and a great human being," said Barak.

During that pilgrimage, the pope asked the Jews for forgiveness for centuries of persecution by the Roman Catholic Church. The pope also made a lasting impression on Palestinians during that visit, when he spoke of their suffering, and called for the creation of a Palestinian state. "He come, visiting here, try to making peace between all the groups of the Holy Land," said Mohammed Kamal Hassan, a Palestinian Muslim. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas described John Paul as a great religious figure who devoted his life to peace, freedom, and justice, and defended the Palestinian right to independence.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called the pope's death a "great loss for all humanity. "He promoted inter-faith understanding and dialogue," Shalom said, "with a willingness to address the past, and a profound determination to build a future of understanding and brotherhood between all faiths."

In 1993, Pope John Paul II formalized relations with Israel, leading to the first exchange of ambassadors between Israel and the Vatican. He is also said to be the first pope to visit a synagogue - he visited the Orthodox Synagogue in Rome in April 1986 - and the first to visit the President of Israel at his residence and the Chief Rabbis of Israel at the Rabbinate.

The OU - the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America - released a statement of "great sadness [at] the passing of Pope John Paul II. The historic and landmark contributions that he made to Catholic-Jewish relations were pioneering and invaluable. The Pope's denunciation of anti-Semitism as a sin against God, which he made as he traveled around the world, is all the more important in light of the alarming trends we see today."

Associate Premier Shimon Peres stated that he was "extremely saddened by the death of John Paul II... [He] was a true spiritual leader whose leadership extended beyond his traditional flock and believers, embracing the entire human family... His actions and statements transformed relations between the Catholic and Jewish faiths, and made a fundamental impact on the struggle against anti-Semitism."

On the other hand, in February 2000, the Pope and Yasir Arafat issued a joint condemnation of any unilateral decision that would "change the unique character of Jerusalem," terming such a decision "legally and morally invalid." Arafat and the Pope, meeting in the Vatican, called for an international status to be granted to Jerusalem.

In an article on John Paul II's relationship with the Jews, Political Science Prof. Sergio Itzhak Minerbi - Israel's former Ambassador to the Ivory Coast, Belgium, and others, as well as an expert on Catholic-Jewish relations - wrote, "No other pope has displayed such a strong interest in... trying to find a common ground between Catholicism and Judaism. But while some people have enthusiastically received the words of this pope as those of a great friend of the Jews, others have remained critical."

"The main criticism against Pope John Paul II," Minerbi wrote, "is his constant effort to Christianize the Shoah (Holocaust)." When the pope visited Auschwitz in June 1979, he compared Auschwitz - where over a million Jews were murdered - to Golgotha, the hill where Jesus was crucified.

"The will of the pope and the Polish Church to stress the Christian character of the Holocaust is clear," according to Minerbi. "In every former death camp there is today a chapel, a church or a cross, even if all the inmates had been Jews... [It could be that] the Pope wanted to transform the Shoah into a martyrdom of the Catholic Polish nation. As a result, it is feared that the Church will teach Catholics in future generations that the Shoah was mainly a Catholic tragedy, or at the very least, that this is a way to avoid any responsibility for the Shoah, since the Church itself was a 'victim' of the Nazis."

In addition, the date of the beatification of Jewish-born nun Edith Stein, who was murdered in Auschwitz, became "Holocaust Day" for the Catholic Church. Her canonization was done in opposition to many Jewish groups, and John Paul II eulogized her as having died "as a daughter of Israel for the glorification of the holy name of God and at the same time as Nun Teresa Benedicta of the Cross."

The late Pope John Paul II wrote in 1998 that the Shoah "remains an indelible stain on the history of the century that is coming to a close." However, he accepts little blame on behalf of Christianity: "The Shoah was the work of a thoroughly modern, neo-pagan regime. Its anti-Semitism had its roots outside of Christianity." The pope admits, however, that Nazi persecutions "were made easier by the anti-Jewish prejudice imbedded in some Christian minds and hearts."

Pope John Paul II very often defended Pope Pius XII, who remained silent in the face of the Nazi genocide. "Whatever his reasons," of which there are several, Minerbi wrote about Pius, "it is clear that when he had to chose between the moral duty of denouncing genocide in order to save Jewish lives, and what he deemed to be the supreme interest of the Church, he preferred the latter."

During his historic visit to the Rome synagogue, Pope John Paul II said, "With Judaism, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are dearly beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers."

Minerbi wrote, "For centuries, the Church has claimed to be the 'true Israel', thus substituting the Jewish religion. It is therefore important that, in a meeting with the Jewish community in Mainz on 17 November 1980, the Pope announced his respect for "the people of God, of the Old Covenant, which has never been revoked by God."

Minerbi noted that in 1984, the Pope wrote that this respect is "based on the mysterious spiritual link which brings us close together, in Abraham and through Abraham in God, who chose Israel and brought forth the Church from Israel." A year later, the pope wrote, "An exclusively negative picture of the Pharisees is likely to be inaccurate and unjust." In the same document it was written that, "Christian sinners are more to blame for the death of Christ than those few Jews who brought it about."

Calls from some Jewish groups have been sounded over the years for the Vatican to return the many stolen Jewish books, manuscripts and other property held in the Vatican vaults to the Jewish People.

After the Disengagement: War in Judea and Samaria Expected


Official Israel Defense Forces sources predict that the withdrawal from Gaza will lead to Palestinian terrorism and violence worse than the previous intifadas, writes Yediot Acharonot's senior military correspondent.

The IDF sources predict that immediately after the disengagement, the ceasefire is expected to end with terrorist attacks in and from Judea and Samaria. Among the threats are mortar and Kassam rockets on Israel's new toll-way Highway 6, as well as other areas in the coastal plain and the Afula area. The "regular" ambush attacks on roads, as well as attacks on army bases and towns in Judea and Samaria, are also expected.

The IDF Central Command is already preparing for the next round of armed conflict, correspondent Alex Fishman writes. It is assumed that it will begin in September. The preparations are mainly in the form of trying to stop the massive weapons smuggling from Egypt into Gaza, and from there to Judea/Samaria. The Palestinian terrorists are heavily armed, Fishman writes: "Despite the successes in discovering arms-smuggling tunnels [between Egypt and Gaza], in the battle between smuggling and thwarting smuggling, the smugglers have won."

According to army estimates, in the eight-month period between July 2004 and February 2005, over 3,000 assault rifles were smuggled into Gaza, as well as 400,000 bullets, 400 pistols, and more than 1,300 pounds of explosives. In addition, over 180 anti-tank rocket launchers and five anti-aircraft rockets are now in the possession of the Palestinian terrorists.

The army recently intercepted a shipment of RPG anti-tank missile launchers at the Shoket Junction near Be'er Sheva, on their way to the Mt. Hebron region. Some 20 such launchers were recovered over the past year - as opposed to an unknown amount that have made their way in. Once the RPG rockets become a common weapon in Judea and Samaria, Fishman writes, "the IDF will no longer enjoy freedom of movement in its jeeps on the roadways, nor will it be able to use jeeps to pursue terrorists and make arrests in the cities... Is it conceivable that the army will only be able to use armed personnel carriers and tanks in Judea and Samaria? And what about the civilian traffic?"

In short, Fishman sums up, "stopping the smuggling has become a matter of national existence. It is liable to spell the difference between a diplomatic agreement and a comprehensive war against the Palestinians."

The Mossad, the police, the Shabak (General Security Service), government offices, and the army have all begun working in various ways to collect intelligence and try to thwart smugglings, and the work is being concentrated in the office of the Operations Commander in the IDF General Staff.

Fishman notes that three attempts have already been made in the Shomron to launch Kassam rockets. Arutz-7 reported that a plot to manufacture deadly Kassam rockets there was thwarted last week with the arrest of eight Islamic Jihad terrorist cell members in Jenin. Earlier in the month, the IDF discovered a Kassam rocket factory near Jenin.

50,000 Public Figures ask Russia to Ban Jewish Groups

By Ha'aretz

Some 50,000 well-known public figures and church officials in Russia have signed a petition asking the country's state prosecution to ban Jewish groups, Army Radio reported Sunday. The petition uses quotations from an abridged guide to Jewish law, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, to support its contention that Judaism is "an extremist and racist ethnicity that hates non-Jews," the radio station reported.

The signatories - including former army generals, artists and an unnamed former international chess champion - argue that this definition of Judaism makes the activity of Jewish groups illegal, according to the radio. 20 Russian lawmakers signed a similar petition about two months ago, the radio said.

Foreign Ministry official Nimrod Barkan warned Sunday that Russians were effectively getting the message that anti-Semitism would be tolerated. "There's the expansion of the number of anti-Semitic incidents, including violent incidents [in Russia]; the enforcement institutions avoid taking effective steps," said Barkan, who heads the Diaspora and religion department in the ministry. "This sends a message, also to those sitting on the fence," he told Army Radio, "that it's comfortable and secure to be anti-Semitic in Russia."

Terrorist Enclaves will be Linked to Israel by Rail


Israel Railways has announced a 280-million shekel ($65 million) plan to connect terror centers Jenin and Gaza with the national railways. Railway officials hope the trains will promote economic growth. Critics of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, however, suggest that the new train system mean that even after Israel implements a "separation" plan, Israelis and PA Arabs will continue to be intertwined.

The plan calls for a 6.8-mile line from Jenin, in northern Samaria, to Afula and the Jezreel Valley. This line will then connect with the planned route from Haifa to Beit She'an. In addition, a 4.3-mile link will be built in the area of Gaza, connecting with the planned Be'er Sheva-Ashkelon line. Both routes aim to link factories with ports in Ashkelon and Haifa.

Rail officials also plan to develop a cargo and passenger terminal at the Erez Crossing, north of Gaza City. They say that the links are necessary to stimulate economic growth in the Palestinian Authority, which they claim will promote peace.

Israel's railway system has grown dramatically in the past five years, making it a more frequent target for terrorist attacks. Three Jews were murdered in a terrorist suicide blast outside the Nahariya train station on Sept. 9,. 2001, and in April 2003, a security guard was similarly killed in an attack at the Kfar Saba train station.

Additional long-term Israel Railways projects include trains to the Jordanian border, with links from there to other Arab countries.

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