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Weizman Dead at 80

By Ha'aretz.com

Former President Ezer Weizman has died at the age of 80. Weizman was recently released from Haifa's Rambam Medical Center following a two-month bout with pneumonia. Upon his release, doctors reported they were satisfied with his progress and expressed optimism towards a total recovery.


Former President Ezer Weizman Dies

By Ha'aretz

Former president Ezer Weizman, who played a key role in establishing the Israel Air Force and in forging peace with Egypt, died Sunday evening at his home in Caesarea, at the age of 80.

Weizman had been hospitalized two months ago suffering from pneumonia and spent most of the time in intensive care in an induced coma and on a respirator. He was released from the intensive care unit at Rambam Hospital in Haifa 10 days ago and, according to a Rambam physician, he was fully conscious and breathing on his own. However, according to close associates, Weizman was released from the hospital in poor condition and had in fact returned home to die.

Weizman will be buried in a state ceremony in the cemetery at Or Akiva, next to Caesarea, on Tuesday, according to a statement by President Moshe Katsav.

Uri Levy, head of the municipal sports department in Or Akiva, and a close family friend for 30 years, said on Saturday afternoon that Weizman's condition had worsened, and his family, who had been caring for him devotedly throughout his illness, made the decision not to take him back to the hospital. Weizman lost consciousness Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and he died at 7:30, Levy said.

Mourners streamed toward the house on Hadekel Street in Caesarea where former president Ezer Weizman lived. Among them was MK Yaakov Edri, deputy minister of public security and former mayor of Or Akiva, another close family friend. "The first thing I said to ]his wife[ Reuma was that Ezer had returned home."

With regard to Weizman's burial in Or Akiva, Edri said, "Ten years ago, when his son Shauli and daughter-in-law Racheli were killed in a traffic accident, Ezer came with a blank check and asked to buy a burial plot for him and Reuma next to their graves. Or Akiva was his protege. He used to sit in a restaurant and play backgammon with the locals. That was Ezer Weizman for us."

Yael Dayan, Weizman's niece, who visited the family last night, said when she left, "The feeling of loss is like losing my father. Now Ezer too is gone. It's a kind of leadership that's very difficult to do without. I am glad he did not suffer at the end and was glad to have Passover at home." Israel Air Force Commander Eliezer Shkedi, among Saturday night's visitors to the Weizman home, said, "We shaped and are shaping generations of pilots according to the heritage left to us by Weizman, a man with extraordinary vision."

Weizman was born in Tel Aviv on June 15, 1924, and his family moved to Haifa shortly thereafter. His father, Yehiel, was the younger brother of Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president. Weizman, who learned to fly at 16 and volunteered to serve in Great Britain's Royal Air Force at age 18, was one of the founders of the Israel Air Force and undertook daring missions during the 1948 War of Independence.

In 1958, Weizman was appointed commander of the Israel Air Force, a post he subsequently served in for eight years. A year after he left the post, while he was serving as the head of the Israel Defense Forces Operations Branch, the 1967 war broke out. Israel's air force played a crucial role in that war.

The shift from military service to political life came naturally to Weizman. In three decades in political life, he made a highly public transition from hawk to dove, saying the Jews had to learn to "share this part of the world" with the Arabs. Immediately after retiring from the IDF, Weizman joined Golda Meir's government. Over the years, he resigned from his position in the Herut party due to differences of opinion with Menachem Begin, set up a new party, joined Labor, and later resigned from the party.

His military experience enabled Weizman to be among the first in contact with Arab channels regarding peace processes. In the late 1970s he was in close contact with Egyptians ahead of the peace treaty between the two states. As defense minister in Begin's government, he established close ties with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. The personal chemistry between the two helped advance the treaty. In 1980, Weizman resigned from his post due to disagreements with Begin over the pace at which the agreement was being implemented.

In the late 1980s, Weizman met with Palestine Liberation Organization officials in Europe, at a time when such activities were illegal. The prime minister at the time, Yitzhak Shamir, threatened to dismiss him.

Toward the end of Chaim Herzog's tenure as president, Weizman appeared to be the leading candidate for the position. Despite a certain lack of desire on his part, he agreed to take the post due to public pressure. Upon being selected, Weizman said he knew what a president was not allowed to do, but wasn't sure what was allowed.

Weizman served as Israel's seventh president from 1993-2000. As president, he invited Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat to his house, in an effort to advance the peace process. His casual style breathed life into the largely ceremonial office and endeared him to many Israelis. Weizman was forced to resign as president over a police probe into allegations of bribery while he had served as a lawmaker and cabinet minister. Charges were never pressed as the statute of limitations had expired.

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Weizman was unique. "In war, he showed incredible bravery, and when peace appeared on the horizon, he enlisted for it," Peres told Channel Two TV. "He always searched for the original, the daring and the new. He knew how to warm the hearts of thousands."


Israelis Observe Passover Under Tight Security

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israelis are celebrating the biblical feast of Passover under tight security. The weeklong holiday is taking place under the shadow of Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip this summer. Israelis gathered with family and friends for the festive Passover meal, called the Seder, recounting the biblical story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt 3,500 years ago.

Security remains tight across Israel. Authorities have sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip, barring Palestinians from entering the country. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said Palestinian militants could try to disrupt the weeklong Passover holiday.

"We are most concerned that violent, radical groups, who really don't have an interest in a process of reconciliation, moving forward, that they will, in fact, use the holiday season here in Israel to do some sort of outrageous terrorist attack that will cripple this process before we move forward," said Regev.

It has happened before. Everyone here remembers the Palestinian suicide bombing at a Passover Seder three years ago that killed 29 people in the coastal city of Netanya. That sparked an Israeli invasion of the West Bank, including an assault on the headquarters of the late PLO chairman, Yasir Arafat.

Passover is also taking place under the shadow of Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip this summer. Thousands of Israelis from around the country are celebrating the holiday in Gaza, in solidarity with the 8,000 settlers slated for evacuation.

Gaza resident Rachel Sapperstein told VOA that they are praying for a miracle, namely, the cancellation of the Gaza pullout. "We're waiting for the Almighty to do what He has to do, just as He did so in the days of our life in Egypt, when we were slaves," said Rachel Sapperstein. "We went from slavery to nationhood, and this will be the same." At the same time, the settlers admit that it might be their last Passover in Gaza.


Cigarettes Have Chametz

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Several years ago the RJ Reynolds Company was forced by Congress to disclose all of the additives that it puts into cigarettes--more than 500. These additives are put in to give each brand its distinctive taste, so they are all significant - or at least are so considered by the company.

In his "The Laws of Pesach" (Passover) bulletin this year and last, Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz said that cigarettes contain chametz (leavened ingredients), thus deeming them forbidden for usage during the Passover holiday. "The Laws of Pesach" bulletin lists at least four ingredients that are chametz: 1] wheat extract and flour; 2] trimethylpyrazine (from barley); 3] tetramethylpyrazine (from wheat); 4] levuline acid (wheat bread). There may be more such ingredients. The subject is being further researched.

In addition, Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch wrote in his Jewish legal work Teshuvos Vehanhogos (Orach Chaim) that cigarettes have chametz and should not be used on Pesach. Rabbi Yehuda Arye Dunner also gave out a letter saying that Rabbi Nissim Karelitz said that in addition to the possible prohibition to smoke throughout the year, there is the additional prohibition of getting benefit from chametz on Pesach from smoking. (With permission from Yated Ne'eman-Bnei Brak)


Remember 'Never Again'

By Ed Ziegler (Commentary)

Only in rare instances do we hear about anti-Semitic acts in other parts of the world. That is because the media does not pay much attention to just another individual hate action (crime). It is unnerving to acknowledge that anti-Semitism is definitely on the rise throughout the world. Not since the Germany of the 1930s has it been so bad for the Jewish people. Join me for a quick trip through Europe to see a little of what is happening.

Lets start with Ireland. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's article of June 10, 2004 Dr. Shimon Samuels, director of the center, sent a letter to Ireland's Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, protesting the Irish ruling party's association with the Greek racist neo-fascist LAOS party. The LAOS's newspaper endorses anti-Semitism and made the statement. "The terrorist strike against New York's twin towers has been proven beyond any doubt to have been caused by the action of America's Jews." WOW! Nothing really new? - Read on.

In England, Elizabeth Hopkin of the Evening Standard1 writes there is a large, growing and vocal group in England that is virulently anti-Semitic and sometimes violent. There have been attacks on 100 synagogues since 2000. After an attack on the Tottenham synagogue. Lord Janner, president of the England's parliamentary committee against anti-Semitism, visited the synagogue. He said " It reminds me of what I had seen years ago as a war crimes investigator in Germany." Acts of hatred on 100 synagogues, or is it only a little mischief by neighborhood kids?

Let's take a peek at the liberal Netherlands. The rise in anti-Semitism, noted since 1997, became more acute and serious in nature with the outbreak of the second intifada. There was a steep increase in threats to use violence and in the use of abusive language against Jews, as well as in harassment of Jewish school children.

The Dutch government is offering refugee families whose asylum applications are rejected a sum of $7,200 to voluntarily leave An official said the buyout program is to deport 26,000 immigrants by 2008.. Ben Wattenberg, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute interpretation is "If I'm willing to pay you $7,000 to leave, it means I don't like you very much. They hate the Muslims."

Let's stop in Belgium. The far-right/neo-Nazi fringe formerly perpetrated all the anti-Semitic acts, but in the past four years similar act can be almost exclusively attributed to Muslims. For example, in just one week, six very violent anti-Semitic attacks were reported in Antwerp, One of the attacks involved the stabbing of a 16-year-old. Also three other young Jews were shot at.4

From what I have read France is not a place I, as a Jew, would want to live. Two Arab kids never denied regularly beating up a Jewish boy for months. The two aggressors were never expelled from school and in a similar incident, Muslim students persecuted a young Jewish girl at school. Her family sued the oppressors. French justice decided the Jewish family should pay the oppressors 4,000 Euros (about $5,000). What a turnaround.

France's Chief Rabbi, Joseph Sitruk, declared that Jews should be wearing French-style caps, not explicitly and obviously Jewish kippahs. This is to blend in more and to avoid triggering violence against a Jew.

After a 10-fold rise in attacks and threats against Jews in France in the past decade, Luc Ferry, France's education minister said it was vital to fight racism among young people. Ferry said teachers had reported being abused by young Muslims while trying to teach about the Holocaust.

Between the Neo-Nazis and the Muslims, Germany is no picnic for a Jew. When Elie Wiesel was in Berlin for a conference on anti-Semitism, he was asked a revealing new question. For the first time ever, it was not "Should we leave Europe?" but "When should we leave?"

We have reached the end of this brief overview. It is the beginning of a very important journey. Each one of us needs to look inside of him or her self. Are you going to simply say, "That is happening elsewhere, not here." Or "So what's new?" or "I have no problem." or "I can't do anything. I am just one person." Hopefully none-of the above, for you and yours may, one day, also be in jeopardy.

Our enemies, yes enemies because that is how they have cast us, and treat us, are mainly the so-called fanatic Muslims and then a few Neo-Nazis. They are targeting us on all fronts. In the streets, in schools, in the media, and politically. And yes in the United States.

I hope the Jewish community becomes proactive to defend itself. Make "Never Again" our guide. It is up to each and every one of us.

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