Newsletter : 5fax0502.txt
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4,500 Teachers to Lose Their Jobs
The Education Ministry plans to release the names of 4,500 teachers slated for
dismissal. Ministry officials insist it is not too late to prevent most of the dismissals
if union leaders agree to sit and discuss the relevant issues, adding the decision rests
in the hands of union leaders. The background of this latest row is economic. The
ministry's budget was recently slashed by hundreds of millions of shekels. The teachers
to be fired can only be those who teach "unnecessary" disciplines such as agriculture,
nutrition and home economics, carpentry, and the like, or who otherwise do not contribute
sufficiently to the school.
Palestinian Authority Launches 'Law and Order' Campaign
By Robert Berger (VOA-Bethlehem)
The Palestinian Authority has launched a new "law-and-order" campaign to rein in
supporters of Hamas. The plan is winning praise from ordinary Palestinians. PA leader
Mahmoud Abbas is sending more police onto the streets in an attempt to curb what he calls
"armed chaos" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The new law-and-order campaign is aimed at
stopping militants from parading through the streets with their weapons.
Gunmen seized control of the streets when the Palestinian uprising against Israel
erupted 4.5 years ago. While the militants are widely regarded in the territory as heroes
and freedom fighters, many Palestinians have grown disillusioned with the gang rule and
lawlessness that govern their cities." We do not want to see anybody with guns really,"
said Yousef Awad, a businessman in Palestinian-ruled Bethlehem. "We have seen it, we
disagree with it, (and) the Palestinian Authority now has to crack this."
Awad told VOA that any gunman who does not abide by the new regulations should face the
consequences. "If he carries a gun without the law, or does not abide by the law, he
should be arrested." The law and order campaign falls short of the demand by the
internationally backed Roadmap peace plan that terrorist groups be disarmed. Palestinian
officials say militants can keep their weapons, as long as they keep them out of
The Islamic group, Hamas, described the new regulations as unacceptable, so a showdown
could be looming between the terrorists and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has tried to
avoid that, preferring persuasion to confrontation. But he is under pressure from Israel
and the international community to restore law and order and end terrorism.
Last week, Abbas delivered his toughest threat yet against militants, vowing to use an
"iron fist" against anyone who violates the cease-fire. And Palestinian Interior Minister
Nasser Youssef warned that, if dialogue with the militants fails, "the Palestinian
Authority will impose control by force."
PA Media and Universities Promote Terrorism, Hatred, and Jihad
Despite Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' well-polished image as a moderate,
his administration has been presiding over an incessant campaign of incitement against
Israel that spans the media and university centers.
Abbas' Fatah controlled press has been at the forefront of incitement against Israel.
At the same time, PA universities, where tomorrow's PA leaders are getting their
education, are becoming more radicalized and opened about recruiting suicide bombers
directly from the student body.
The PA's state television has been accusing Israel of poisoning Palestinians with
radiation. Gaza TV reported on Saturday that Israeli machines killed a 55-year-old
Palestinian woman who apparently died of a heart attack after being searched with an
That story was depicted in the print media with a cartoon that in western countries
would be condemned as anti-Semitic propaganda: A hand with a Star of David on its sleeve
holds up a red colored machine called "Rafah crossing", emitting waves that are called
"death and illness." The cartoon appeared in a newspaper, Al-Hayat-Al-Jadeeda, a paper
owned and controlled by the Fatah faction of the PLO, headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
Moreover, the official news agency of the PA claimed on Thursday that Israel
deliberately killed "an aged woman" with an American made "radiation machine." The
Palestinian Authority itself announced last Tuesday that it was closing the Rafah (Rafiah)
crossing to protect Palestinians against "Israeli use of a radiation device for searching
Palestinian travelers." Israeli security officials have said that the device is nothing
more than an American-made machine that uses "holographic technology to screen passengers
for weapons and explosives."
According to Michael Widlansky of IMRA (Independent Media Review Analysis), a
think-tank that surveys the Arab press, Abbas is continuing a long-running PA campaign,
led by Arafat and his wife Suha, to discredit Israel by claiming that Israel uses
"radioactive weapons" against Palestinians, including "uranium artillery shells", "uranium
bullets" and "poison gas."
Widlansky asserts that under Abbas, the Palestinian media have actually stepped up the
use of incendiary mosque speeches broadcast on Palestinian radio and television where both
Israel and American are regularly attacked as well as increased use of code words in
Arabic such as "resistance operations" to describe attacks on Israelis.
Incitement against Israel is not the sole prerogative of the PA media, however. Abbas'
administration has also done virtually nothing to stem an alarming rise in anti-Israel
hatred spewing out of campuses in the PA administered areas of Judea, Samaria and
Hamas, which intends to run candidates in the upcoming PA general election this summer,
has won control of the student councils at Hebron University and the Polytechnic
University of Hebron by significant margins. Both schools were closed several times by the
Israeli military government when suicide bombers were recruited clandestinely by Islamic
extremists on campus.
Now Hamas promotes terrorism openly on campus. A leaflet distributed by the Islamic
Bloc, Hamas' student wing on the Hebron University campus, called for loyalty to the blood
of the shahids "martyrs" (terrorists who were killed in an operation against Israel),
claiming that becoming a terrorist would be an "honor" for students.
After 1,000 Years, Israel is Largest Jewish Center
By IsraelNationalNews.com & Ha'aretz
Recent population surveys reveal that for the first time in 1,000 years, more Jews live
in Israel than anywhere else in the world, including the United States. Israel's Jewish
population is more than 5.5 million, surpassing the slightly more than 5.2 million in the
U.S., according to official census statistics.
Although non-orthodox definitions of who is a Jew change the American Jewish population
to be between 6 and 9 million, Israel's leading demographer, Prof. Sergio Della Pergola of
Hebrew University, thinks that even those figures will be surpassed by Israel in several
If the number of American Jews continues to decline because of increasing
intermarriage, Israel undisputedly will be the largest Jewish center in the world, even
according to non-traditional definitions of who is a Jew. The Central Bureau of Statistics
estimates that the population growth of Jews in Israel is slowly declining from 1.8
percent, but these projections do not take into account the possible phenomenon of massive
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last year instructed the Jewish Agency to work on a program
to encourage hundreds of thousands of American Jews to move to Israel in the next few
years. Israel ceased being the center of world Jewry towards the 10th century, when Jews
fled the murderous Crusades.
Sharon likes to quote a theory developed by his close friend, attorney Dov Weissglas,
that had the Jews not been expelled by the Romans and suffered nearly 2,000 years of
persecution, there would be between 500-800 million Jews living in the world today. But
Della Pergola of Hebrew University calls this estimate "back of an envelope arithmetic,"
even though he admitted that he too indulges in this occasionally.
Della Pergola himself estimates that given the ideal hypothetical scenario, without
anti-Semitism, persecution, and assimilation, there would be no more than 100-120 million
Jews in the world today. This estimate is based on the assessment that at its height, on
the eve of the great Jewish revolt against the Romans, the Jewish population totaled 2
percent of the ancient world's population.
"On the one hand, there's no doubt that expulsions, persecution and destruction have
led to the number of Jews today being far lower than the growth potential," Della Pergola
said. "On the other hand, you need to remember that a great many lovely people like the
Jews disappeared completely over the course of history, so that the Jews need not feel
The Jewish Agency's education department recently published a new study program that
tries to provide answers to various questions concerning Jewish demography. The pamphlet
contains estimates of the number of Jews who lived in the world during various historic
periods, from the era of the Patriarchs to the present.
For example, the program determines that at the high point of Solomon's kingdom, around
1000 B.C.E., some two million Jews lived in the Land of Israel. On the eve of the
destruction of the Second Temple, the number of Jews reached a peak of about 4.5 million -
a record broken only in the 19th century. During the Middle Ages, the global Jewish
population remained stable, at around one million. The all-time high, 16.5 million Jews,
was recorded right before the Holocaust. In recent decades, the number of Jews has
remained steady at around 13 million, with the demographic growth in Israel offset by the
ongoing decrease in the number of Diaspora Jews.
Della Pergola, the program's scientific consultant, repeatedly emphasizes that the
estimates for the ancient and Medieval periods are not scientifically substantiated and
are merely intended to illustrate demographic trends in the Jewish people.
He collected the numeric data from known written sources, the credibility of which is
in some cases in doubt, to say the least. One striking case concerns the 13th century
B.C.E., for which the estimate of 600,000 refers to the biblical figure related in the
account of the Exodus from Egypt, which many scholars say never took place. Della Pergola
said that setting aside the question of its historic truth; the biblical text contains an
internal statistical logic.
"The bible speaks of 70 men who went down to Egypt with Jacob and of 600,000 men who
left it 430 years later," he says. "That estimate is certainly possible demographically,
if you take as a given that the average life span was 40 years and the number of children
per household was six."
A relatively large number of estimates have been published on the size of the Jewish
population in the first century, in the period before the destruction of the second
Temple. These estimates are based on written sources such as Flavius Josephus and Roman
Columbia University's Prof. Salo Baron, considered among the most important researchers
of Judaism in that period, estimated the number of Jews in the world at that time at 8
million. More cautious researchers like Israel's Dr. Magen Broshi put it closer to 2
Della Pergola averaged the various estimates to reach his estimate of 4.5 million. His
main source for the Middle Ages was the diary of Binyamin of Tudela, who traveled
throughout Europe and the Middle East in 1170. "Tudela's estimates are fairly credible
regarding the places he himself visited. But when he relies on other sources, his
estimates sound pretty implausible."
The demographic trends described by the program are less controversial than the numeric
data. One of the interesting phenomena touched on is that the spread of Jews in the Middle
Ages largely overlapped with the Arab conquests: From present-day Iraq and the Arabian
Peninsula, the Jewish core moved to North Africa and Spain. Another direction for
expansion was from the south of France northward into Germany and central Europe - the
region that became known as Ashkenaz.
Another remarkable phenomena was the rise of Eastern Europe as the largest Jewish
center from the 16th-20th centuries. In Tudela's time, there were very few Jews living in
Eastern Europe. Della Pergola says Tudela himself notes the scant Jewish presence and
observes that it was cold there. The Jews who reached Eastern Europe from Ashkenaz and
from the Black Sea and the Balkans multiplied at an astonishing rate, mostly thanks to
natural growth. Within a few centuries, Eastern Europe was home to two-thirds of all
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