Newsletter : 5fax0422.txt
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Jewish soldiers in Iraq Get Pesach Food
The U.S. Defense Department will be providing Jewish GIs with kosher K-rations this
Pesach throughout the holiday. Thousands of packages containing kosher for Pesach MREs
(meals ready to eat) have already reached Army and Navy supply bases, with special
shipments aimed at Jewish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each kit contains 24 MREs,
enough for three meals a day for the eight days celebrated in the Diaspora. The Jewish
Welfare Board's Jewish Chaplains Council is supplying them. The JCC estimates that the
number of Jews stationed in Iraq is between 500 and 600, including eight chaplains.
Israel Vows to Keep Large Areas of West Bank
By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel has vowed to retain control of vast areas of the West Bank. The declaration came
as a Palestinian attack on Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip rattled the Mideast
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed that Israel will hold on to large West Bank
settlements in any final peace agreement with the Palestinians. "The major settlement
blocs will be a part of Israel," Sharon told Israel Radio in an interview before the
Passover holiday. He said hundreds of homes are being built in these settlements with the
aim of attaching them to Israel.
Sharon's remarks come just 10 days after he received a sharp face-to-face rebuke from
President Bush, who told him that settlement expansion violates the internationally backed
"road map" peace plan. "We hope that Prime Minister Sharon will heed President Bush's call
to have a full cessation of settlement activities," said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb
A Palestinian attack on an Israeli border patrol in the Gaza Strip put further strain
on the peace process and the fragile two-and-a-half-month old cease-fire. The army said
Palestinian militants detonated a roadside bomb, wounding one soldier.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has approved a proposal to delay a withdrawal from
the Gaza Strip by three weeks, clearing the way for top officials to make a final decision
on the plan. Mofaz previously had sent mixed signals about delaying the pullout from July
20 until after August 14, when an annual Jewish mourning period ends. But he accepted the
delay at a meeting with top officials Thursday.
Sharon told reporters the Gaza pullout would go forward, but vowed to build more
housing in the West Bank. The United States has repeatedly said that such construction
violates the internationally backed peace plan known as the "road map."
Israel is also concerned about terrorism from Syria. In his interview, Sharon warned
that Russia's plan to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Syria is a danger to Israel and a
threat to regional stability. Israel is concerned, Sharon said, that shoulder fired
missiles could wind up in the hands of terrorist organizations. He said he would bring up
the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will visit Israel next week.
IDF Fears Soldiers to Disobey Orders
The IDF plans to embed army lawyers into units during the planned evacuation of Jewish
residents in Gaza and northern Samarian this summer. Army officials also are worried that
soldiers will resort to violence and thievery.
A legal advisor will accompany every brigade commander, who can turn to the counsel for
advice if soldiers do not carry out orders. The IDF also is considering a plan to use the
military courts near Gaza and northern Samaria as offices where charges can be placed and
soldiers can be put on trial. Besides insubordination, IDF officials also fear that
soldiers may try to steal after forcing residents out of their homes.
Sharon Expresses Concerns about Russia's Missile Sales to Syria
By VOA News
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has expressed concern that Russian anti-aircraft missiles
being sold to Syria could fall into the hands of terrorist groups.
However, in an interview with Israeli radio broadcast Thursday, Sharon acknowledged that
Israel couldn't intervene in Russian weapons sales to other countries.
Russia has assured Israel the missiles in question are defensive and vehicle-mounted,
and that they could not be converted to shoulder-launched models.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli television Wednesday the SA-18 missiles
in Syria would "of course make it difficult to fly over the residence of the Syrian
president." Two years ago, Israeli warplanes flew over President Hafez al-Assad's palace
in Damascus, apparently to warn that he must rein in terrorist groups based in Syria.
Putin will arrive in for a two-day Israel next Wednesday. The visit will be followed by
talks on April 29 with Palestinian leaders.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas invited Putin as part of an attempt to bolster his position
in the government and gain an ally in negotiations with Israel. Several Abbas opponents
charge that Russia prefers a closer relationship with Israel, which in turn has expressed
fears that Syrian terrorists will receive weapons that Russian selling to Damascus.
Security officers for Putin ordered $10,000 worth of sophisticated locking devices from
the Israel-based MultiLock Company, for installation in Putin's Moscow residence. The
Russian president's house is to be secured with 60 MultiLock devices, after Russian
security officials examined many competing proposals for the operation.
Sources at MultiLock, based in Yavneh, explained that the system sold to Russia
includes a lock integrated with a sophisticated electromechanical safety-catch mechanism,
which includes an electronic combination secured with cutting-edge encoding.
Chief of Staff: Israeli Media Shallow, Ignorant and Unethical
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon attacked Israel's media Wednesday, calling its
members "shallow, ignorant, unethical and beholden to manipulative foreign interests."
Ya'alon made his statements during a lecture on the relationship between the media and the
military at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva. "We have turned into the State of
[media] 'Spin'," Ya'alon said. The Chief of Staff said specifically that there was a very
wide gap between how the IDF is portrayed by Israel's media and how it is seen by the
As an example of the extent of the problem, Ya'alon cited a personal experience with
unethical journalism. "A short time ago I had a discussion with eight reporters," he said.
"The next day, the headlines in the paper [reading 'Ya'alon: We Won the Intifada'] were
completely false, written by a reporter who wasn't even there."
Ya'alon said he said nothing of the sort at the meeting and that ever since the blaring
headlines he has been repeatedly quoted as though he made such a statement. "Worse,"
Ya'alon added, "none of the journalists who actually took part in the discussion
criticized the headline - in order to protect their colleague."
The Chief of Staff also spoke about the IDF's shifting ability to cope with the
international media. He said a major improvement in the army's ability to speedily counter
Arab propaganda with facts was one of the major accomplishments in recent years. He also
said that media relations are now taught in every army command course, and those officers
are now taught how to present themselves on television.
Ya'alon even admitted that military decisions now take into consideration the media
when they embark on security operations. "If we have a choice to use a tank in the daytime
or nighttime we would rather use it at night, so that it can't be filmed," Ya'alon
The IDF army chief also confirmed at the meeting what had been posited by many
independent journalists and researchers: The death of Muhammad al-Dura, the Arab boy shot
in his father's arms and shown on TV screens across the world at the beginning of the Oslo
War, was not caused by the IDF. "We know one hundred percent that he was not hit by IDF
gunfire," Ya'alon said. "He was apparently shot by a Palestinian Authority police
Pollard Claims Israel Wants Him Dead
Jonathan Pollard charged that the Israeli government wants "to bury" him and that Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon twice has refused to deliver to President George W. Bush a letter
signed by 112 Knesset members calling for his release from prison.
Pollard is serving a life sentence for passing intelligence information to Israel. He
told the Makor Rishon Hebrew weekly that in 1995 a Mossad representative suggested to him
that he commit suicide. Pollard was an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy and began to
pass information to Israel in 1984. He was arrested the following year.
Pollard's wife Esther has written an open letter to President Bush, asking him to
release her husband in time for Passover as a matter of simple justice. "We are
approaching the eve of Passover, the Holiday of Freedom for the Jewish people. I am
writing to ask you to release my husband, Jonathan Pollard. Jonathan is completing his
20th year of a life sentence in an American prison for his activities on behalf of
Mrs. Pollard then notes the unique aspects of her husband's case, notably the fact that
he is "in his 20th year of a life sentence for an offense which carries a median sentence
of 2 to 4 years," that he is the only person in the history of the United States to
receive a life sentence for spying for an ally," and that he "received his life sentence
without benefit of trial, [but rather] as the result of a plea bargain which he honored
and the government abrogated."
She wrote that he was never indicted for harming the United States, nor for
compromising codes, agents or war plans. On the other hand, his is "the only espionage
case in which then-Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger personally intervened to
influence the court."
Mrs. Pollard explained that Weinberger "delivered a memorandum to the sentencing judge,
falsely accusing Jonathan of treason - a crime he was never accused of nor indicted for -
and called for the maximum sentence of life. Since Jonathan was sentenced in 1987, neither
he nor his security-cleared attorneys have ever been permitted to access the Weinberger
document to challenge the lies it contains in a court of law. Jonathan is still not
permitted to access the document - even though Weinberger himself admitted in a 2002
interview that the case against Jonathan Pollard was actually 'a small matter' and that it
had been blown up and 'made far bigger than its actual importance.'"
She wrote that as her husband enjoys support "across the broadest possible social and
political spectrum" in Israel, it would be most fitting "if Jonathan were home in
Jerusalem in time for the first night of Passover - a holiday that marks the liberation of
the Jewish nation from bondage. Releasing my husband would be a credit to your honor and a
blessing for both America and Israel."
She had criticism of Prime Minister Sharon for not even mentioning the issue during his
meeting with Bush in Texas last week, for not having given the president a Knesset
petition signed by 112 MKs asking for Pollard's release, and for not giving him the letter
signed by all the chief rabbis of Israel, past and present, asking for Jonathan's release
as a gesture for Passover.
Mrs. Pollard also criticized American justice. Quoting a new book by the former Special
Envoy to the Middle East, Dennis Ross, she states that U.S. officials acknowledge that
Jonathan deserves to be free as a matter of simple justice, but refuse to release him
because he is too valuable as a bargaining chip against Israel.
"Mr. President, this deplorable situation has to stop," concludes Mrs. Pollard.
"Jonathan is not a bargaining chip, or a carrot on a stick. He is a flesh-and-blood human
being who has served a very, very long and harsh sentence for the offense he committed.
Both U.S. and Israeli officials are now simply holding him hostage for political
exploitation - each for their own motives. I am appealing to you as a God-fearing man to
answer positively the appeals of 112 Knesset Members, all the chief rabbis of Israel and
all the people of Israel by releasing my husband, Jonathan Pollard... in time for Passover
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