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Professor Points to Site of Original Sinai Mountain


An Israeli professor and a journalist recently returned from an expedition where they think they located the biblical place of Mt. Sinai where Moses ascended to receive the Torah. Egyptian police cut their journey short and they fled. Daniel Michaelson, a professor at the Weizmann Institute, has said his research indicates the mountain is at the Jibal Summit in the south of the Sinai Peninsula. Bedouin guides escorted the two journalists to the area, and they walked for five hours with cameras and compasses until the police stopped them. The journalist fled while the police summoned Egyptian soldiers.

Israeli High Court Gives Green Light for Gaza Pullout

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the government's Gaza withdrawal plan is constitutional, removing the last legal obstacle to the pullout, which is due to begin in mid-August. The court rejected 12 petitions by opponents of the plan. It said Gaza is not a part of Israel, and, therefore, the evacuation of more than 8,000 settlers is not a violation of human rights.

"We didn't expect anything from this court, since the petitioners are Jews, patriots and settlers," said Yoram Sheftel, a lawyer for the settlers. Sheftel said the court is much more lenient when the petitioners are Arabs, terrorists that come to destroy this country."

The Israeli government welcomed the Supreme Court decision. "I hope this ruling makes it absolutely clear to the settlers that the pullout is going ahead," Justice Minister Tzippe Livni told Israel Radio.

In another boost to implementation of the plan, Israel and the Palestinians have struck a deal to coordinate the pullout. Under the agreement, Palestinian security forces would deploy in Gaza, and prevent attacks by militants as Israel withdraws. Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat told VOA that police would maintain law and order. "We have an obligation, and we must honor our obligation."

But Israelis have their doubts. A new poll shows that public support for the withdrawal has dropped to an all time low of 48 percent, down from a high of 64 percent last year. Pollsters say Israelis fear that, once the army leaves Gaza, there will be a new wave of Palestinian terror.

Dershowitz Blames Sharon, Senators for Pollard's Imprisonment


Renowned human rights attorney Alan Dershowitz said that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. Jewish senators are to blame for Jonathan Pollard's continued imprisonment. Dershowitz was asked by Israeli Channel 2 television Thursday to comment on Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon's recent prison visit to Pollard. Dershowitz responded that Pollard was right to be angry about the empty gesture. "He should be very upset."

Dershowitz blasted Sharon for "sending the wrong people to speak to the wrong people." He said Sharon failed to send anyone to speak with senators to gain their support. "Don't go to talk to the president, go to talk to Joe Lieberman. Go to talk to the Jewish senators who have urged the president not to release Jonathan Pollard," he said. "If we can't persuade the United States senators who are Jewish to seek Pollard's release, don't even bother to ask the president."

Dershowitz added that the blame for Pollard's remaining in prison after serving 20 years should be directed toward Sen. Joseph Lieberman. "Joseph Lieberman and about five others wrote a letter to Clinton when he was president, urging him not to release Pollard," Dershowitz said. "There is no chance for his release unless the Jewish senators are willing to do something courageous. This is first of all an internal Jewish problem," Dershowitz insisted, "so don't blame it on the non-Jews - it is the Jews who are at fault."

Terror Attack Warnings in Sinai

By Ha'aretz

The Counter Terrorism Headquarters at the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday cautioned Israelis not to visit Egypt, particularly the Sinai peninsula, saying that there were concrete warnings of terror attacks against Israeli travelers there. "Lately the threats of terror against Israelis in Sinai have become more serious," said the travel warning, posted on the Prime Minister's Office Internet Web site.

The alert comes just a day before the long weekend with Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which starts at sundown Sunday. Thousands of Israelis usually travel abroad over the holidays, including to the Egyptian resorts. The attack warnings are mainly linked to the World Jihad movement, which is believed to be behind last October's double attack in two popular Red Sea resorts in Sinai where eleven Israelis were among 34 killed.

Egypt's authorities have since arrested dozens of suspects in the attacks, but the Counter Terrorism Headquarters fear that the terror network in the Sinai peninsula is still active and that at least some of the attacks' perpetrator's are still free. The Prime Minister's Office released a similar warning before the Sukkot holiday last October.

Ethiopian Aliyah to be Financed by N. American Jewry


The United Jewish Communities Federation of North America has pledged $100 million to facilitate the immigration of Ethiopian Falush Mura to Israel. Falash Mura are Ethiopians of Jewish descent who converted to Christianity during the last 100 years. It is widely believed that Falush Mura did not convert of their free will, but were forced to convert under duress.

The addition of $100 million, to be allocated towards the absorption of Falush Mura over the next five years, should help alleviate the costly burden of Ethiopian Aliyah being carried by the Israeli government. Many of the Ethiopians who have previously immigrated to Israel have consistently remained true to their Torah culture despite the hardships faced in Ethiopia. Called Beta Yisrael, the Ethiopians who refused to convert to Christianity have already been absorbed to Israel. While the Falush Mura, are not considered to be Jewish today, they are legally eligible for immigration to Israel. Ethiopian Jews, including Falash Mura are believed to be descendants of the tribe of Dan.

Current Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar was secretly commissioned by leading Sephardic Torah Sage, Rav Ovadia Yosef, to travel to Africa and investigate the authenticity of the Falush Mura's Jewish genealogy. Then Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rav Amar reported to Rav Ovadia, who declared the Falush Mura to be authentic Zera Yisrael, or "Descendents of Israel." In February 2003, based on the recommendations of Rav Ovadia, the Israeli Cabinet approved a decision to legally approve the Aliyah of Falush Mura. All Falush Mura undergo a full Orthodox conversion upon their arrival to Israel, under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate. Currently between 18,000 and 20,000 Falush Mura are believed to be in Ethiopia.

The Israeli government has placed a limitation on the number of Ethiopians who may immigrate to Israel. Until the start of this month, only 300 Ethiopians per month were permitted to enter the Jewish homeland under Israeli law. A recent government decision doubled that number to 600 per month. It remains to be seen whether the increase will be successfully implemented. Under the new arrangement, all of Ethiopia's Falush Mura population could be absorbed within three years. Previously, it would have taken up to six or seven years to gather all of the remaining Falush Mura.

Conditions in Ethiopia are harsh, with frequent food shortages. Falush Mura generally suffer from high rates of unemployment. Over 80,000 Ethiopians have already been absorbed since the founding of the State of Israel. In November 1984, mass immigration of Ethiopian Jewry began with Operation Moses. 8,000 or approximately one-third of the Beta Yisrael, were absorbed during that first mission. In May 24, 1991, an additional 14,000 Ethiopians were brought to Israel on 34 airplanes.

A joint government report by the Ministries of Absorption and Interior claims that each individual Falush Mura costs the government approximately $100,000. However, many claim that this figure may be exaggerated. According to Michael Freund, Chairman of Shavei ( organization devoted to helping lost Jews immigrate to Israel, Ethiopians face many challenges upon their immigration to Israel. "In addition to learning a new language, Ethiopians must be familiarized with western society. This often takes significant financial resources. Whether it costs $100,000 per person is uncertain."

Freund is pleased however that the North American community is ready to foot the bill for Ethiopian Aliyah. "The government has been dragging its feet to absorb all the Falush Mura. It is a shame that it has taken this long to increase the allotment for Ethiopian Aliyah. "Ethiopia is the only country in the world, where there is a quota on the numbers of those eligible to make Aliyah," Freund added. If 2,000 French Jews wanted to make Aliyah one month, they would be welcomed with open arms. Only in Ethiopia do we put a limit on Aliyah to Israel."

Freund is hopeful that similar funding will be made available for the Indian Jews of Bnei Menashe, and that Aliyah will increase from all areas of the globe. "While I am pleased that North American Jewry is willing to fund the immigration of Falush Mura, Israel does not only belong to Jews the Jews of Asia, Africa, and Europe. I hope that American Jewry will also consider immigrating to Israel in greater numbers in the near future.

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