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Israeli Report: Sharon Orders End to Arms Deal with China

By VOA News

An Israeli news report says Israel has decided to cancel an arms deal with China, after strong pressure from the United States to call off the deal. The U.S.-Israeli dispute centers on Israel's sale to Beijing of (HARPY) attack drones that Washington fears could threaten the security of U.S. interests in East Asia. Earlier this month, Ha'aretz said the Bush administration imposed military sanctions on Israel six months ago that had caused "grave damage" to Israel's defense industries. The U.S. has not confirmed the sanctions. But last week, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said Washington has had some "difficult discussions" with Israel about the arms deal. The Ha'aretz report also says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has instructed envoys headed for Washington this week to agree to U.S. demands to call off the deal.

Teen Victims of West Bank Shooting Attack Laid to Rest in Jerusalem

By Ha'aretz &

Two Israeli teenagers killed in a drive-by shooting attack in the West Bank over the weekend were laid to rest Sunday in Jerusalem. Avichai Levy and Aviad Mantzur, both aged 17, were shot by two Palestinian gunmen who opened fire from their car as it passed a hitchhiking station close to the settlement of Beit Haggai, near Hebron.

The funeral procession for Levy, who was killed outright in the attack, set out at noon from Beit Haggai. He was laid to rest at the Mount of Olives cemetery. The procession for Mantzur, who died of his wounds Sunday morning, departed from his home in the settlement of Otniel on Sunday afternoon. He was also buried on the Mount of Olives.

The Arab terrorists who murdered two teenagers took advantage of the recent easing of army restrictions, an IDF officer said. IDF Hebron Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Moti Baruch said he had no doubt that the easing of restrictions allowed the terrorists to reach the road bypassing Beit Haggai. The terrorists are from Hebron, the industrial area of which is across the highway from Beit Haggai.

The opening of the road to Arab traffic between these two points enabled the terrorists to perpetrate their attack, and then turn around and flee to safe haven back into the PA-controlled parts of Hebron. The army reinstated the restrictions following the attack, and intelligence units are searching for the attackers.

Beit Haggai resident Ya'ir Lior, son of Hebron Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, said he warned the army last week that it had "opened the road for murderers." He said, "I told the army commanders this past Sunday that he was allowing too much Arab traffic in the region, and too many Arab murderers to travel freely, and that Jews are being endangered." Lior said that Avichai was a youth movement leader, "full of life and humor," and his death is a "great loss for Beit Haggai."

Spielberg Film a Surprise to Mossad

By Reuters

Steven Spielberg, famed for Hollywood blockbusters, is keeping mum about his latest project, a dramatization of tit-for-tat killings that followed the 1972 massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes by Palestinian terrorists. Such is the secrecy that even the Israeli spymasters who commanded the reprisals after the Munich Games have been left out in the cold.

Five retired Mossad agents, all of whom served in key intelligence posts during the hunt for Palestinian terror chiefs in Europe and the Middle East to avenge the slaying of Israel's 11 sportsmen, voiced surprise at hearing of the film. "I know nothing at all about this project," a former Mossad director who declined to be named told Reuters.

Entertainment reports said the film, provisionally titled "Vengeance " and due to reach cinemas in December, is based on a book of the same name whose account of one of the most painful chapters in Jewish history has been widely discredited. Spielberg spokesman Marvin Levy said the project had been comprehensively researched. "This film has been built from many, many sources. One thing I can say is we expect this to be a balanced film," he said. According to authoritative film website, the screenplay is by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner, and lead actors include Eric Bana and Geoffrey Rush.

Best known in Israel for "Schindler's List," a Holocaust epic that ends with a pro-Zionist message, Spielberg was quoted as saying in a "USA Today " interview last week that the new film was a chance to explore his Jewish faith and fear of terrorism. In the preface to "Vengeance," author George Jonas declares himself a supporter of Israel. But according to at least one member of Spielberg's cast, Daniel Craig, the screenplay is a less-than-flattering portrayal of Israeli tactics. "It's about how vengeance doesn't ... work -- blood breeds blood," Craig told entertainment magazine Empire.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office, which oversees Mossad and its archives, said it had received no request for assistance from any film production on Munich or its aftermath. It was not clear if help would have been forthcoming. Israel has never formally claimed responsibility for the shootings, booby-traps and cross-border commando raids that killed 10 Palestinians linked to Black September, the group that carried out the deadly attack in Munich's Olympic Village.

The campaign included the 1973 slaying in Norway of a Moroccan waiter mistaken for Black September's leader. Six members of the Israeli hit team were prosecuted for murder. Israel eventually paid compensation to the victim's family. "That whole period is too sensitive, even 30 years on," said an ex-deputy Mossad chief. "No one really wants to discuss it."

But Zvi Zamir, who headed Mossad in the 1970s, broke his silence after "Vengeance," purporting to be an expose based on the confessions of a Mossad ex-assassin, was first published. According to the book, Israel largely abandoned its agents mid-mission in Europe, where several were hunted down and killed by Palestinian counter-espionage teams -- an account not borne out by news reports or the protocols of the Norwegian trial.

Zamir told the New York Times in 1984 that the version of events in "Vengeance" was "not true" but did not elaborate. While standing by his source, Jonas admitted, "certain details of the story were incapable of being verified." Jonas's agent Linda McKnight told the Wall Street Journal last year that Universal Pictures, which is co-producing the film with Spielberg's DreamWorks, had exercised an option to make a movie based on the book.

Major TV Networks Boycotted 'Hospital Bomber' Story

By (Commentary)

Despite the distribution of a video of the Arab suicide bomber who intended to blow up a hospital by the IDF, nearly all-foreign news agencies chose to boycott the story altogether. An outraged former undersecretary to President Ronald Reagan and candidate for Republican Presidential nomination,, Gary Bauer, wrote a scathing critique of the world media's decision to avoid the story.

"If you don't get the Fox News Channel then you didn't see any of the dramatic footage of the Israeli army's arrest yesterday of a 21-year old, female Palestinian homicide-bomber, strapped with 25 pounds of high explosives, just moments before she was to commit mass-murder by detonating herself inside an Israeli hospital. No other television network featured the story. Utterly ignoring the extraordinary video of the homicide-bomber's arrest, both the BBC and CNN focused extensively on how much 'damage' Israel's early morning arrest - for which there was no video - of 55 Fatah and Islamic Jihad terrorists, described by CNN as 'Palestinian activists,' would cause to (the)s scheduled 'summit meeting' between Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"That only one network would air incredible footage of the seizure of a ticking human-bomb, just moments before she tried to murder hospital patients, means this story was not simply ignored by the mainstream media - it was boycotted by the mainstream media. Since nearly every aspect of this remarkable story contradicts everything the mainstream media has been trying to tell us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they just opted for the easiest way to handle it - denying it ever happened. Ignoring the story meant the networks didn't need to tell viewers that (the) homicide-bomber was not dispatched by terrorists of Islamic Jihad or Hamas, groups opposed to President Abbas, but was in fact working for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which is controlled by the political party Fatah, whose chairman is none other than President Abbas himself!

"Ignoring the story meant not having to reveal that the would-be-murderer had been traveling regularly to Israel for years on a valid medical pass, which granted the woman free treatment for burns she received in a home cooking accident, and was thus ruthlessly exploited by depraved terrorists whose shameless capacity to cynically manipulate goodness, in their pursuit of murder and death, knows no bounds.

"Ignoring the story meant not having to cover comments the female-terrorist made in a rare army supervised press conference in which she revealed what her mission was and who sent her. "I believe in death," she said on Israeli TV. "All my life I have been preparing to be a martyr. Mother, please forgive me for failing in [my] mission." Sentiments not exactly consistent with the line long peddled by the liberal media, and more recently even by the Bush administration, that Israel is the obstacle to "peace."

The Future According to the `Jewish Jules Verne '

By Ha'aretz

The pessimistic scenario: It is 2025 and the Jewish people's very existence is threatened - the number of Jews worldwide has dropped to 10 million, 6 million of whom live in Israel; the intermarriage rate is climbing and most children of mixed marriages have no links to Judaism. In Israel, society is choosing "normalcy" over Jewish existence, the security situation is deteriorating and social unity is disintegrating; in the Diaspora, the strength of Jewish communities and of Jewish education is ebbing, the bonds between the Diaspora and Israel are particularly weak and Jewish financial fortunes are in decline; anti-Semitism is rising, as is the Muslim world's hostility toward the Jews. This is the pessimistic scenario, which is described as a "realistic nightmare."

There is also a reverse scenario for 2025, one described as the "realistic vision," in which the Jewish people is flourishing with about 18 million Jews, two-thirds of whom live in Israel; Jewish identity in Israel is gaining strength, along with the securing of regional stability and economic growth; in the Diaspora, most Jewish children are enrolled in Jewish educational institutions, the connection with Israel is getting stronger and economic and political might of the Jews is on the upswing; the Jewish nation is leading the way in "tikkun olam" (repairing the world) and is enjoying a period of prosperity in its relations with Christians and Muslims.

Both of these extreme scenarios, practically polar opposites of one another, were presented recently to a group of about 20 contemporary Jewish social leaders in an attempt to formulate a plan to navigate the way of the Jewish people through the decades to come, to realize the optimistic vision and avoid the nightmare scenario. The group convened far from the media spotlight and almost in secret, at the Wye Plantation, near Washington, D.C. Wye is familiar to Israeli history buffs as the place where Israelis and Palestinians secluded themselves and worked out the famous "Wye Agreement."

However, this time it was not statesmen and politicians around the table, but rather an assortment of the most prominent names in the contemporary Jewish gallery, including attorney Alan Dershowitz, former Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat, Natan Sharansky, Rabbi Samuel Sirat, the former chief rabbi of France, Michael Steinhardt, one of the leading Jewish philanthropists in the U.S., Dennis Ross, Prof. Yehezkel Dror, Jacques Attali, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow and others. Incidentally, some participants asked to keep their attendance a secret. Steven Spielberg was compelled to cancel at the last minute, but promised to come to the next event.

Members of the group spent 24 hours together at the site, which is relatively isolated and distant from the hustle and bustle of Washington, in an attempt to consider what needs to be done to ensure a better future for the Jewish people. "Our object is to understand what should be done now to make the future of the Jewish people better," says Avi Gil, the former Foreign Ministry director general who chaired the project. It was organized by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute), an independent think tank set up by the Jewish Agency that studies issues related to the Jewish people.

The Wye Plantation gathering, described as a brainstorming session, is the end-stage of a project entitled "Alternate Futures for the Jewish People." Over the past few months, various experts drafted papers that plumbed the options available to Israeli and world Jewry in spheres such as demography, geopolitics, Jewish identity, economy, technology and Israel-Diaspora relations. Each sub-section attempted to gauge current trends and determine where they might lead two decades from now. The experts tried to identify the points of possible intervention, in order to divert these trends toward a positive direction.

"This group is the Jules Verne of the Jewish world," said Avinoam Bar-Yosef, who heads the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, referring to the group that gathered at Wye to discuss scenarios. But unlike Jules Verne, they made no attempt to predict the future, only to influence it.

"When I left I was definitely worried, but also a bit optimistic," says Prof. Jehuda Reinharz, president of Brandeis University, a participant in the group. Like most of the others, Reinharz believes there are genuine concerns about the loss of Jewish identity and decline in the size of the Jewish people, so much so that it would make it hard for Judaism to continue functioning. The only reason he finds for optimism is that 20 very busy Jews took the time to consider how it can save the Jewish people, and tried to devise solutions to the situation. It may be the indication of a positive shift in the approach to dealing with the problems of the Jewish people.

Most participants agreed that the biggest threat to the Jewish people in the next few decades is weakening Jewish identity. In the modern world, Jewish identity competes in a big market of ideas and ideologies that are open to every individual. The difficulty of linking Jews, primarily younger Jews, to their Jewish identity eventually leads to estrangement from Jewish communal life, distancing from the State of Israel, and rise in intermarriage, which in the second generation causes a quantitative loss of Jews.

The American Jewish community lost between 300,000 and 500,000 members in the past decade, a number that concerns anyone engaged in the subject. "In the past few years, colossal efforts have been made to maintain Jewish identity, to find Jews and see to it that they remain in the community, but these efforts have been only partially successful," says Reinharz.

Incidentally, the Jewish identity crisis does not only exist among Diaspora Jews. A document prepared by the JPPPI reveals the concerns about a major weakening of Jewish identity in Israel, particularly in light of calls for turning Israel into a "normal" country in which the Jewish identity component would be downplayed in favor of an Israeli identity.

Not all participants in the gathering agreed that the greatest danger facing the Jewish people is internal. Dershowitz held the minority opinion. He considers the external threat to be the most significant. He feels that anti-Semitism is mounting, and that attempts to delegitimize Israel and the possibility of Iranian nuclear arms are what truly endanger the future of the Jewish people. "As long as Jews are free to choose their identity, I am confident the Jewish people will continue to flourish, despite the decline in numbers."

Stuart Eizenstat, who aside from his position in the American administration also coordinated the issue of Jewish property claims from the Holocaust era, refers to the demographic crisis threatening the Jewish people. In the Diaspora, it is an absolute demographic crisis stemming from intermarriage, low birth rates and aging of the community, whereas in Israel the crisis is relative - in comparison to the Palestinian population. Participants in the gathering concurred that the cliché about quality and quantity is no longer relevant to the Jewish people, and that if there were significant quantitative loss, any possible quality that the community might germinate would still fail to maintain true Jewish life, especially in the Diaspora.

How do you contend with the loss of identity and thinning out of the Jewish people? Most participants in the brainstorming session agreed that the key lies in opening up the gates of the Jewish people and extending a hand to those now on the margins. "We need to lower the entry level of participation in Jewish organizational and religious life," said Eizenstat. "We need to work with those who are less connected to the community, those who traditionally were not part of the community." These "marginal Jews" include non-Jewish spouses in mixed marriages, children of mixed marriages who were not raised in a Jewish home, immigrants from the former Soviet Union who never received Jewish education or whose Jewish lineage is in doubt.

Until now, the Jewish community has pushed away such groups, and imposed demands on those wishing to join in Jewish life. As a result, these "marginal Jews" distanced themselves from Jewish life, and their children grew up without one iota of Jewish identity. "It isn't a matter of conscious desire to leave the Jewish community; it just happens at the everyday level, drop by drop," added Reinharz.

Even the brainstorming at the Wye Plantation could not find a magic elixir for bringing back into the fold those Jews who have slipped away from the community. But it is clear where these solutions may be found. One, in the realm of Jewish leadership. "The Jewish people lacks spiritual leadership capable of formulating new inspirational content for Jewish identity that will inspire, provide meaning and gain relevance," stated the press release issued after the gathering. Another solution lies in hands-on contact with Israel. To date, the only solution that has proved itself in reinforcing Jewish identity among Diaspora Jews (primarily from North America) is spending time in Israel. Even short visits like the 10-day Birthright Israel experience have shown that they can bring participants much closer to their Jewish identity.

Does this mean that a young person taking part in the program will not marry the non-Jewish love of his or her life because of a newly discovered Jewish identity? The answer is no, but the chances are definitely greater that after intermarriage this young person will aspire to have a Jewish home and raise the children as Jews.

Participants in the gathering noted, as a special mention of sorts, the Orthodox community, which maintains full Jewish identity - 100 percent Jewish education, 0 percent intermarriage, and high birthrates. But in the same breath they explained that because it is a closed society, it couldn't serve as a model for Jewish life in the current era.

The buzzword at the gathering was "aggressiveness" - the need to act immediately and resolutely, enlisting all available forces to halt the skid of the Jewish people. At present, Jewish activity is not characterized by any sense of panic or urgency. Birthright, for example, which earns approbations from all quarters, suffers from budgetary constraints that prevent all of the young Jews wanting to visit Israel from being able to do so. Meanwhile, 80 percent of funds contributed by American Jews are directed to non-Jewish objectives.

It is clear that if the Jewish community believed it faced an emergency, much could be changed; both in areas requiring significant monetary input and areas requiring a firm stand against the organizational and religious establishment, in a demand to open the gates of Judaism to assimilated and disenfranchised Jews.

"There is a lot of Jewish energy and thinking in the world that is not being exploited for the benefit of the Jewish people," says Avinoam Bar-Yosef, who hopes the institute he heads will succeed in enlisting these Jewish energies. But Jehuda Reinharz feels the community is complacent. "American Jews are so pleased with themselves, due to the illusion that they have a lot of political and economic power here," says Reinharz, who warns that the community has only a "window of another few years" before the American political reality shifts and the political power of the Jewish community is lost, in favor of the large Hispanic minority and the American Muslim community.

Is anyone listening to these warning shots? Avi Gil, the head of the project, feels there is greater willingness now to hear ideas from the outside, and is therefore acting to present practical recommendations for the future. The conclusions of the team of experts that gathered at the Wye Plantation were presented to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and a special Knesset session will be devoted to them in the near future.

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