Newsletter : 5fax0427.txt
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Hundreds Mark 23 Years Since the Yamit Disengagement
Hundreds of persons took part in Tuesday's event marking 23 years since the Government
of Israel destroyed the Jewish settlement in Sinai. The event was held in the Gaza
community of Alei Sinai, one of the communities slated for destruction under the
disengagement plan. Some of the residents of Alei Sinai were former Sinai refuges, sent to
Gaza to rebuild their lives after being uprooted from their former communities.
Anti-Pullout Forces Plan Mass Rally in Gush Katif on Wednesday
The anti-disengagement forces are to demonstrate their strength Wednesday with a mass
rally in Gush Katif, with tens of thousands of supporters expected to arrive in the Gaza
settlement bloc on board some 600 buses hired by the Yesha Council and the campaign
The buses are expected to bring in about 30,000 people, while those arriving in private
vehicles are going to be directed by police to park in the very same lots near the
Kissufim junction that the army has prepared for its own equipment when the evacuation
The anti-disengagement forces are counting on mass demonstrations in Gush Katif leading
up to the evacuation, in order to persuade the government that it will be impossible to go
ahead with the withdrawal. Police are preparing for 50,000-80,000 people Wednesday. "If
100,000 people come, the prime minister and his plan will have a problem," said Itzik
Iliya, deputy council chief in the Gaza Coast district.
Yesha leader Pinchas Wallerstein said, "Every politician will have to take into account
the meaning of the numbers who arrive in Gush Katif."
Organizers met Tuesday with the police to go over the arrangements and plans. To avoid
the massive traffic jams that took place last year on Independence Day, police are closing
the Kissufim junction to private vehicles, sending them to the parking lots. They will
then be bused to Neveh Dekalim, and then march to the settlement of Shirat Hayam. The
march route takes the settler supporters through the Mouassi, the Palestinian area in the
heart of Gush Katif. From there, they will take the beach route to the settlement bloc's
artificial lake, where the main rally will take place.
Thousands of visitors have been in Gush Katif since the start of the Pesach holiday.
However, despite plans to beef up the settler presence ahead of the evacuation, which is
slated for the summer, there are no expectations that people will start moving into Gush
Katif settlements now for the duration. The bulk of activists are expected after the
school year ends, when authorities believe pre-army religious-nationalist youths will try
to infiltrate the settlement bloc.
The army and police have not yet decided when they will declare the entire area off
limits to anyone who doesn't live there. Unless the date of the evacuation is changed, any
Israeli citizen inside the Gaza Strip as of July 20 will be in violation of the
evacuation-compensation law, and presumably subject to arrest.
The anti-disengagement forces are predicting that having to arrest tens of thousands of
protesters will be too daunting for the government to go ahead with the evacuation. The
army and police are making plans to prevent those tens of thousands from ever getting into
the settlement bloc this summer.
Putin Set to Arrive in Israel for Historical Visit
Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in Israel Wednesday night for an
unprecedented state visit by a Russian - or Soviet - head of state. Government sources say
the visit is important by virtue of it taking place, and is part of a broader swing
through the region indicating Russian interest in taking a higher profile in the region.
Putin will be officially hosted by President Moshe Katsav, but will hold a working
meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, visit Yad Vashem and the Russian Orthodox Church
in Gethsemane, and will meet with a group of Red Army veterans of World War II, and
possibly pay a visit to the Western Wall.
Putin is bringing a present of a statue by the well-known Georgian artist Zurab
Tsereteli depicting Jews behind barbed wire in a concentration camp, a symbol of the
Russian people's identification with the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust.
The statue, to be placed at the President's Residence, had originally been offered to
Yad Vashem, but the institute turned it down out of concern for religious sensibilities,
since some of the figures in the statute are naked.
The meeting with Sharon, who was surprised by Putin's announcement in March that he was
making a tour of the Middle East, is slated to take place over lunch Thursday. On the
agenda are a host of issues, many of which will remain in dispute between the two
countries, despite the famously warm relations between Sharon and Putin.
The top issue on the agenda will likely be Putin's position on Iran's nuclear
ambitions. In an interview with Channel One's Ayala Hasson, Putin said last week that
trying to put restraints on Iran - a neighbor of Russia - would not be helpful, and it is
unlikely that he will accede to Sharon's request that Russia join in the international
front trying to put an end to the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Russia's view seems to be that engaging Iran, rather than confronting it, would be a
more effective way to reduce the risk of an Iranian bomb.
The next issue on the agenda is the Russian sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.
Putin pointedly told Hasson that while the SA-18 missiles would not affect Israel's
security because they could not reach Israel from where they will be positioned, "they
will make it difficult for low-flying aircraft over the president's palace" in Syria, a
clear reference to occasional Israeli air force flights over Bashar Assad's residences.
Putin will argue that the missiles will be placed under Russian supervision, and that
the only type being sent to Syria are jeep-launched so they won't end up in Hizbullah
hands, a major concern of Israel. Although Putin has indicated the deal has been signed,
Israel believes that until the missiles are delivered, it is not too late to convince
Russia not to go ahead with the sale.
The next issue on the agenda is the state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Putin will be hosting a summit with President George W. Bush upon his return to Moscow,
and one of the items on that agenda will be a meeting of the Quartet: the U.S., Russia, EU
and UN committee that monitors the Israeli-Palestinian political process, and the
implementation of the road map.
Sharon's position on the road map is that it has not begun, since the Palestinians have
not disarmed the armed organizations. Putin will be visiting Ramallah for meetings with
the Palestinian Authority leadership, and to formally strike a deal to supply the PA with
troop carriers for its newly reformed police and army forces. Israel is aware that Putin,
who will be arriving from Cairo, is trying to upgrade Russia's position in the region.
Other issues touch on more bilateral matters, including the problem of anti-Semitism in
Russia, an issue on which Putin has demonstrated sensitivity to Israeli-Jewish
There is also the issue of the "oligarchs," the wealthy Jewish tycoons who won their
riches during the heyday of the breakup of the Soviet Union. Three billionaire oil
executives, a publishing tycoon and a former Putin ally turned Kremlin critic have all
taken Israeli citizenship in recent years as Russia sought their arrests, rankling
officials in Moscow.
There are conflicting assessments about whether Putin will seek extradition of those
oligarchs living in Israel, but Sharon has made clear he is against any such extradition.
"I do not intend to turn anyone over," Sharon told Yedioth Ahronoth last week. "Since the
days of my youth, I have been opposed to turning over Jews. I am saying this in the
clearest manner possible."
Adding to the tensions, Putin's visit coincides with the verdict expected Wednesday in
the Russian tax evasion and fraud trial of Jewish businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the
onetime head of the Yukos oil giant.
The three oil executives living in Israel - Leonid Nevzlin, Mikhail Brudno and Vladimir
Dubov - are former partners of Khodorkovsky, and all are wanted by Russia on fraud
charges. The three men, all of whom appeared on the Forbes list of the world's
billionaires in 2004, are now directors of Group Menatep, a holding company that owns 60
percent of what remains of the dismantled Yukos empire.
Also holding Israeli citizenship are Vladimir Gusinsky, a media magnate who fled Russia
after he was charged with financial misdeeds in a probe widely seen as punishment for his
television station's critical coverage of Putin, and Boris Berezovsky, a one-time Kremlin
insider who was charged with fraud after a falling-out with Putin. Both men, however,
spend most of their time in Europe.
As Putin is fond of pointing out, "The million Israeli citizens who speak Russian"
create opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, ranging from a possible
natural gas deal to counter-terrorist cooperation.
Putin and Katsav will issue a joint declaration and hold a joint news conference; the
only encounter with the media Putin will face while here.
His whirlwind visit to Jerusalem is likely to disrupt traffic in the city, police
warned Tuesday, promising to do what they can to ease the traffic as much as possible,
even while maintaining high security for the visit.
The Beat Goes On - Cleveland DJ Home In Israel
By IsraelNationalNews.com [Written by Shifra Paikin, this article originally appeared
on the Jewish Agency Mag-Net website)
When Benyamin Bresky was working on radio shows in his native Cleveland, he was the
technician for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir program as well as a Church program that
followed. "I came from that to play here for Jewish people," said the 28-year-old new
While attending the local public schools in Cleveland, Bresky was active in United
Synagogue Youth, the youth movement of Conservative Judaism. After graduating from
Cleveland State University, in 1999, with a major in communications, he worked at a
variety of part-time jobs at local radio stations.
"At one of the stations," he recalls, "I once filled in on Christmas and I played all
this Christian music. But I felt pretty dumb so I began playing Jewish music," he
deadpans. "But I felt pretty dumb doing that too - who am I to be playing Jewish music on
Christmas? No matter which way I went I could never fit in."
This feeling, coupled with a bit of wanderlust - "In some ways I felt like I needed to
get away from the place where I was born and brought up in order to grow"- prompted a
visit to the local Jewish Agency aliyah emissary, who told him about various programs in
Israel for young adults. The Jewish Agency's Internship Program, which provides young
adults from throughout the world with the opportunity obtain professional experience in
Israel by serving as volunteer trainees in their fields, seemed the perfect framework for
him. After receiving Bresky's resume from the emissary, the Internship Program matched him
with IsraelNationalRadio.com, an independently owned and operated Internet station that
broadcasts in Hebrew and English.
He arrived in Israel as a tourist in April 2004. He was housed in the Jewish Agency's Beit
Canada in Jerusalem, one of 35 absorption centers throughout Israel that helps ease the
transition for newcomers during their first months in Israel. This includes an intensive
Hebrew language ulpan as well as a variety of programs to help them learn about Israel.
"It's a nice place," said Bresky, who recently became an oleh. "I've met people from all
over the world. There's always someone to talk to." He is currently rooming with Sasha, an
immigrant from Russia: "He doesn't speak and English and I don't speak any Russian, so we
have to converse in Hebrew."
Bresky's six-month internship consisted of doing various odd jobs and various
administrative tasks. When his internship ended he was offered a permanent job at the
station, and when there was an hour to fill, he was given his own show. "The Beat with Ben
Bresky," a weekly hour-long music show in English, airs ever Sunday at 6 pm. "Each week I
try to do something different," he says, "like Carlebach, or Ladino, or trance music. One
week he hosted songstress Shuli Natan of Jerusalem of Gold fame. "The radio station treats
me like family," he noted, adding, "At last I fit in."
"The Beat with Ben Bresky" can be heard on streaming audio or downloaded as an mp3 file from IsraelNationalRadio.com at www.israelnationalradio.com.
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)