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Funeral of Israel's Seventh President


The funeral of Israel's seventh president and Minister of Defense, Maj. Gen. (retired) Ezer Weizman will be held Tuesday, April 26 in the Or Akiva Cemetery. An aerial demonstration will fly over Or Akiva at the end of the funeral. The formation will include several F-16s from the 101st squadron, the first combat squadron that was under Weizman's command. The aerial demonstration, which will be led by the commander of the 101st Squadron Lt. Col. E, will fly over the funeral from west to east.

Israel Sees Peace Opening with Lebanon

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has welcomed the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, which is due to be completed by Tuesday. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said the departure of the Syrian forces opens the way for peace with Lebanon.

Shalom said there are no real obstacles standing in the way of normal relations between Israel and Lebanon, so there is no reason why peace cannot be made. He told Israel Radio that he plans to unveil a new peace initiative soon.

Sunday, Syrian soldiers evacuated a checkpoint in the Bekaa Valley that they had held since entering Lebanon, 29 years ago. A day earlier, dozens of trucks carrying hundreds of Syrian soldiers and at least 150 armored vehicles completed the largest single movement since Damascus announced it would withdraw its forces.

Syria's chief of military intelligence in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Rustom Ghazale, will hold an official ceremony Tuesday to mark the completion of his country's evacuation of military forces from Lebanon. Syria began withdrawing from Lebanon last month, following international and Lebanese pressure in the wake of the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Anti-Syrian opposition leaders accused Damascus and Lebanon's pro-Syrian government of having played a role in the assassination - a charge both have denied.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he plans to delay the release of a report on Syria's withdrawal until Tuesday, so the United Nations can confirm the pullout of all Syrian forces.

Any change in relations between Israeli and Lebanon would focus renewed attention on the role of the Lebanese-based Hizbullah terrorist group. Hizbullah terrorists periodically fire into the disputed Shebaa Farms area, along the Lebanese-Israeli border. Israel and the United States consider it a terrorist organization.

But, Hizbullah is also an important political grouping in Lebanon and is credited by many Lebanese with having forced Israel to pull its forces out of Lebanon in 2000.

PA TV Broadcasts PA Sponsored Sermon Inciting Against Israel/US


The sermon broadcast this past Friday on official Palestinian Authority television accused Israel and the United States of seeking to conquer the Arab world. "Our enemies want to occupy Arab and Islamic lands, under their leadership," Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris declared in his weekly sermon. The imam (Islamic preacher) is on the PA's payroll, according to Hebrew University professor and Arab affairs expert Dr. Michael Widlanski, who translated the sermon.

The speech was, in other words, both broadcast and financed by the PA, whose chairman Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly committed to eliminating incitement against Israel and the US. "Our enemy has become strong and fed on us like prey in our lands, in the East and in the West, because we are weak, and our only strength lies in the Koran," Mudeiris said in his speech. He also declared that the "enemy" had deliberately tried to cause "civil war" among the Arab world. Abbas himself last month told Egyptian journalists that any attempts to reign in terror groups would lead to "civil war."

The Islamic preacher did not mention America and Israel by name, but the term "occupiers" is a word used in the Muslim world for both the United States and Israel whose forces are termed "the American Occupation Army" and "the Israeli Occupation Army."

Widlanski claimed that although Abbas has shown "intermittent restraint" immediately following Israeli or American pressure - including the removal of most "martyr films" from PA TV - there has been a "parallel promotion of atrocity stories about Israelis deliberately murdering Palestinian children."

"In addition," he says, "there has been an increase in the use of certain code-words such as 'resistance operations' and 'martyrs' that glorify, rather than condemn, certain attacks on Israeli targets."

Sex and the City - the Orthodox Version


Regulars at a Tel Aviv-area pub catering to the ultra-Orthodox community said it enables religious youngsters to experiment with a more liberal, wanton lifestyle. The popular hangout, Meidale, offers revelers a strictly kosher menu, but also serves as a meeting place where ultra-Orthodox males and females can mix freely and discover the joys of sex.

The pub makes ultra-Orthodox youngsters feel at home and gives them an opportunity to mingle with a variety of people, says "Zvi" (not his real name.) None of the pub's attendees would permit themselves to be identified by their names. "It's a place any haredi (ultra-Orthodox) can feel comfortable at," he says. "We don't feel alienated here."

One of the pub's main attractions for Zvi and his friends is the chance to meet women. After all, members of the ultra-Orthodox community are forbidden from approaching females on the street, while couples meet only five times before getting married.

Zvi said he takes advantage of the opportunity to engage in sexual activity at the pub, although he frequents the pub to make friends. "It's easier to make out with an ultra-Orthodox girl who's looking to breach the wall," he said.

Zvi said he does not look for full-blown sex, but admits some of his friends do just that. He says he recently came to the pub with a friend who ended up having sex in the bathroom with a girl he just met. "The girls here drink a little and open up," he said.

The real action at Meidale starts late at night, said "Avi," another regular visitor. Women and men start to dance together, drink tequila, and subsequently cannot control themselves, he said. "They have the illusion that no one will be talking about them later," Avi added.

Sexual activity is commonplace at the pub, he says, and arguments over girls happen all the time. "You can see full-blown sex at the parking lot," Avi said. Not all guests, however, agree that the pub is all about sex and promiscuity. Most people just come to have a good time, not engage in sexual activity, said ultra-Orthodox journalist "Yakov." This is not like the TLV (popular Tel Aviv club,) where you go in and find yourself in the bathroom with someone within five minutes," he added.

Meidale's owners Mickey Leizerovich and Hanan Nachmani said they invested NIS 800,000 (about $175,000) in the pub. Nachmani said, however, that their original intention was to run a kosher pub, not an ultra-Orthodox one. "As reality demonstrated, the ultra-Orthodox were truly deprived of a place like this," he said.

Leizerovich's wife, Hani, said the pub caters to religious youngsters who feel uncomfortable going into secular pubs, where they immediately stick out because of their religious headgear. "The moment they come here," she said, "they don't give a damn about anything."

Leizerovich and Nachmani, however, said they are concerned about Meidale's "sexy" reputation. The pub's kosher certificate was temporarily taken away after a local newspaper ran a story about the place, they said. The owners' concern is indeed justified, said Avi, who says he knows exactly what will happen once word of the pub gets out and reaches the ears of yeshiva heads. "A bus will arrive and they'll pull out yeshiva students and girls out of there," he said. "It will be a huge mess."

Ethiopians Say They Can't Get Into TAU, Hebrew U

By Ha'aretz

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University are closing their doors to Ethiopian students, especially those wishing to study in prestigious programs, Ethiopian activists and university graduates said. These two universities consider the psychometric exam as the decisive factor in accepting students, thus significantly reducing the number of Ethiopian students compared to the other universities.

Immanuel Hadana, a prosecutor in the military advocate general's office, graduated in 2000 with a first degree in law from TAU. The law program initially refused to accept him because his psychometric grade was lower than required by the entrance threshold. Only after repeated appeals - appearing before a committee and approaching the top university officials - did the program agree to accept him. "My attempts to enter the law study program in TAU took more time than the studies themselves," he said.

Hadana was recently invited to speak at the Knesset's Immigration and Absorption Committee about the success in the absorption of the Ethiopian immigrants. He told the committee that the university management had asked him to praise its success in accepting immigrants from Ethiopia at a talk to university contributors and trustees. "I was the second student (of Ethiopian origin) at the university. I remember a conference where they wanted me to say there was a 100 percent rise in the number of Ethiopian students at TAU. I objected," he says.

TAU, with its 28,000 students, is the largest university in Israel. In 2002-2003, only 32 Ethiopian students studied there. At Hebrew University, the second largest, there were 26 Ethiopian students at that time. The number of students at the Technion in Haifa, which is considered a relatively small, elitist institution, was 49. Altogether, 441 Ethiopian students studied at the six large universities in 2002-2003, 30 percent (128) at Bar Ilan and some 40 percent (174) in Haifa. "I am not ashamed to say that Hebrew University and TAU are `snobbish' universities that refuse to accept the immigrants from Ethiopia," Israel Radio's Amharic program director Zaga Malko told the Knesset committee.

Attorney Yitzhak Dassa of Tabeka, an association providing legal aid to Ethiopian immigrants, said: "I'd give the worst grade to absorbing immigrants from Ethiopia to TAU and Hebrew University. Looking for an Ethiopian student in either of them is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Now a Jewish Nigerian Scam

By Ha'aretz

What do Imelda Marcos, a Nigerian dictator, Mikhale Khodorovsky, and David Weintraub all have in common? They are all used as part of the email fraud known as the "Nigerian scam." The newest version that landed in many unsuspecting Israelis' electronic mailboxes last weekend sets out as the bait the inheritance of one David Weintraub, a Jew who died with no heirs.

In this Nigerian scam, the perpetrator proposes to the victim a partnership for smuggling a large sum of money - Weintraub's estate - out of a country, usually Nigeria or some other third world country. The sum, often in the range of tens of millions of dollars, is supposed to be divided between the partners. The schemer either requests the victim to transfer a small sum of money at first, or his bank details. He then proceeds to either steal money from the victim's bank account, or extort larger and larger sums.

The scam is also known as the 419 scam based on the section of the Nigerian penal code dealing with this fraud. In the newest version, a Dr. Yassin Muhamad - referred to as a bank branch manager in Nigeria - presents the case of the inheritance of someone named David Weintraub, an Israeli oil contractor who worked with the Nigerian national oil company. According to the letter, Weintraub left $6.5 million in his account, and because he has no heirs, this money will be transferred to the state. However, being the only one in the know, Muhamad offers the email recipient the chance to help and steal the money by transferring it to a foreign account and then sharing the wealth.

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