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China: Playing Both Sides of the Golan


China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing visited Syria last week, after his trip to Israel ended. While in Syria, he said that both Syria and China suffered from occupation, and that he hoped Syria could restore its occupied lands. reported that during a visit to the city of Kuneitra, on the Golan Heights, Zhaoxing planted an olive sapling "and was briefed on the destruction caused by Israeli troops before their withdrawal." The identification with Syria is in contrast with the Chinese foreign minister's visit to Israel when Zhaoxing said that China wishes to cooperate with Israel on all levels, expressing hope that relations between the two countries will be based not only on the ancient past that characterizes the two nations, but also on what he called, "today and tomorrow."

Israelis Brace for Traffic Jams Amid Disengagement Protests

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli police and motorists braced for traffic jams and gridlock this week as opponents of the government's planned withdrawal from Gaza again take their protests to the street.

Protest organizers call it a "democratic, mass civil protest." The Yesha Council of West Bank and Gaza settlements says it plans to have up to 100,000 anti-disengagement activists lining the sides of major roads throughout Israel to make the case against the government's plan to withdraw all settlements from Gaza and four small ones from the West Bank beginning in August.

Aliza Herbst, a spokeswoman for the council told VOA the protest, scheduled to last 15 minutes, was designed to make Israelis stop and think. "The plan is at six o'clock Israel time, towards evening, for everyone wherever they are, to stop doing what they are doing and stand quietly for 15 minutes with orange banners, orange signs to make it clear they are doing it as a protest against the disengagement plan."

Orange has become the symbolic color for disengagement opponents, who often wear orange T-shirts or ribbons. For weeks young activists have been handing out orange ribbons for motorists to tie to their cars.

Herbst says this week's actions are not aimed at disrupting traffic and should pose no danger. "Our goal is to show our strength and solidarity and to let fence-sitters know that the majority of this country is against the disengagement plan, they should jump off the fence and land on the right side and against the disengagement plan."

During the weekend soldiers got a taste of what they could be facing if settlers resist attempts to remove them from their homes. Ten protesters and 10 soldiers were injured Sunday as the army knocked down abandoned buildings along the Gaza beachfront and scuffled with youths trying to stop the demolition. One soldier was taken away after he refused orders and shouted his support for the protesters. And on Monday, settler youths set up a new outpost atop the rubble of the buildings knocked down the day before.

IDF Soldier Refuses Expulsion Orders, 12 Comrades Join Him


U.S. immigrant Avi Bieber declared, 'A Jew does not expel a Jew' and refused orders after seeing his officers beating Jewish residents Monday. Twelve of his comrades have now followed suit.

Bieber, a soldier in the 603rd Combat Engineer Battalion, approached his commander a week ago, and informed him that he is unable to take part in the implementation of the Disengagement Plan. Bieber's father Ralph told Arutz-7 that the commander dismissed the 19-year-old, telling him that the matter would be discussed two months from now, when the actual expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria is due to begin.

On Sunday, Bieber's unit was brought to an area near the beachfront community of Shirat HaYam and ordered to destroy 11 abandoned structures. The government wished to ensure that the buildings would not be used to house anti-expulsion activists flooding into Gush Katif.

As violent scuffles ensued, Bieber, who according to his father did not plan on publicly refusing orders, felt compelled to cry out against the beating of the protesters, young and old alike. "Soldiers do not beat Jews! A Jew does not expel a Jew!" he cried out. He was immediately relieved of his weapon and taken into custody, as friends from his unit looked on.

Many of his fellow soldiers of 15 months, it turns out, do not disagree with him. Twelve of the soldiers from his unit informed their brigade commander last night that they refuse to take part in any future actions having to do with the Disengagement Plan. They received a reprimand on their permanent records.

Some of the soldiers were also not pleased with the way they say they were deceived into taking part in the expulsion. "If we had been informed that we were being taken to a mission of this sort, we would have refused along with Avi," some of the soldiers told Yedioth Ahronoth. "We were always told that [our] weapons ... are against Arabs. How can you do such thing against Jews?" one soldier said.

"My wife and I are very proud of what our son did," Ralph Bieber told Arutz-7's Ezra HaLevi. "It took a lot of courage to do what he did. He is usually a very quiet kid, but he saw something that moved him emotionally and brought him to speak out."

Bieber said his son had been stationed in Gush Katif for the past six months and has grown to admire the community, which he took great pride in protecting. "Now they bring him to kick them out?" Bieber asked.

The Biebers say that ever since news of Avi's refusal hit the headlines, their phone has been ringing nonstop. "I really believe the majority of this country knows this plan is insane," Bieber said. "I have gotten calls from Herzliya, Netanya, Tel Aviv - people who tell me that they are not religious, but agree with my son and will stand with him. I got a call from the Chabad house in Tokyo. A father and son from Tel Aviv approached us, and the elderly father, a Holocaust survivor, said, 'What your son did really moved me. If the Jewish people would have done what he did in the time of the Holocaust, things would have ended differently.'"

United Church of Christ Plans Anti-Israel Resolutions

By the Simon Wiesenthal Center

In early July, the United Church of Christ, founded in 1957 as the union of several Christian traditions, convenes its General Synod, in Atlanta, Ga. On the agenda are resolutions calling for the dismantling of Israel's security barrier, and divestment from companies doing business with Israel.

This comes at a time when Israel is removing all Jewish settlements from Gaza, when she has released 900-plus Palestinians held for abetting terrorism, and as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meet face-to-face in pursuit of an equitable peace.

Recently, when another Protestant denomination considered similar resolutions against Israel, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, had this to say, "Israelis are already traumatized and feel that the world is against them. This proposal, if it is agreed, would be another knife in the back. Christians who owe so much to the Hebrew Scriptures and to Israel itself should not be among those who attack Israel in such a way."

Since the Holocaust, Jews have appreciated the attempts of many church groups including the UCC to promote cooperation and good will. But the passing of resolutions so arrogantly oblivious to the safety and future of Israel's civilian population will result in inestimable damage to the relationship between our communities.

An Open Letter to the UCC

By Frances Bernay-Cohen (Commentary)

There is a certain people, whose population through the ages has been decimated for one main reason: it's stubborn belief in the G-d that gave the majority of the Western Civilization its code of ethics...the Holy Scriptures.

Although, time and time again throughout every generation in recorded history, it has suffered exile, senseless murder, ridicule, it managed to "dust itself off" and move to a more hospitable location over and over again.

This small population (1/2 of 1 percent of the world's population) managed wherever it went to enrich the culture of its host nations in every single field of civilized life: medicine, mathematics, music, entertainment, general science, technology, and government...

This people is historically known as Semite because it traces its ancestry through one of Noah's sons, Shem. Some 4,000 years ago, one of these Semites heard the voice of G-d and separated himself and his family from the idol worshippers around him and left for a promised land.

You, of course, know the rest of the story, this very common man was Abram. His grandson, Jacob, later wrestled with an angel of G-d, and in so doing earned the name Israel. Yes, all the population of this vast area were known as Semites and to this day they are all "cousins."

Not all of Abram's (Abraham's) descendants continued to seek the truth in G-d's word. Many of them strayed, forgetting that one of the most important commandment that G-d would ever issue was to love ones neighbor as himself. But today, in our times, we can witness a people who live by this doctrine. Who, although have enemies living within its midst, continue to afford the same human rights to these enemies. They do so at a price which daily continues to sacrifice its precious children.

Now comes, The United Church of Christ, one of the mainline Christian churches who tries to compare this tiny state of Israel to South Africa. Israel, a nation built on the ashes of its European population only because the world did not know what else to do with the remnant. How does the Church compare a tiny strip of land with South Africa? South Africa was a nation whose apartheid separated people because of their race, not because of fear that these people would murder them. Let's sensibly take a long look at modern Israel.

In modern Israel there is freedom of religion. In modern Israel Arab cousins work beside their Jewish neighbors in peace and prosperity. Many of these Arabs do not speak out in defense of the Israeli government for fear that terrorists will in turn murder them.

So, I ask you Rev. J. Thomas, the honorable spiritual leader of The United Church of Christ, do not say that you are being anti-Semitic, but call it as it is...say you are being anti-Jewish and ask yourself why? Little Israel may not need you for its survival...but I think you need Israel and the Jewish people for the sake of your humanity.

Russia Investigates Jewish Law Code for Racism

By & Ha'aretz

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin opened Monday's parliamentary plenum session by condemning a Russian decision to examine a code of Jewish halakhic law to ascertain whether it constitutes racist incitement and anti-Russian material.

Rivlin said "We in the Knesset are following the matter closely, due to both worry and zero tolerance of serious expressions of anti-Semitism such as this."

According to Israel Radio, a senior Foreign Ministry figure on Monday evening said Israel would view gravely any Russian decision to examine the Shulhan Arukh - a code of Jewish halakhic law compiled in the 16th century.

Russia's state prosecutor ordered the examination of the Shulhan Arukh and instituted a probe against a Jewish umbrella organization in Russia for distributing a Russian translation of an abbreviation of the Shulhan Arukh.

Last Thursday, attorneys from the Russian State Prosecutor's Office questioned Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, chairman of the Congress of Jewish Organizations - one of the two large Jewish umbrella organizations in Russia. Kogan was asked to explain the contents of Shulhan Arukh, especially regarding its treatment of non-Jews.

Jerusalem sources following the affair said this is the first time since Stalin's regime that Russian officials have described holy Jewish scriptures as prohibited incitement. The affair has been covered widely by the Russian news media, eliciting sharp reactions from Jewish organizations in Russia.

The state prosecutor's last move has increased Israel's concern for the Jews in Russia, following the recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents there. These incidents include attacks on Jews and damage to Jewish property.

The inquiry was launched following a letter signed by 500 public figures, including some 20 members of the nationalist Rodina party, urging the state prosecutor to outlaw the Jewish religion and all the Jewish organizations operating in Russia. The prosecutor rejected requests of Jewish organizations to open an investigation into those who had initiated the letter. members who signed the letter.

Alexander Boroda, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities told a Russian news agency: "We are shocked by the very examination. The fact that books from the 16th century, which have become part of Jewish heritage, are subject to investigation shows the short-sightedness of the state prosecutor's people."

Pollard: Israel Preparing Barghouti´s Release


Jonathan Pollard warns that Israel is grooming terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for his murderous terrorist crimes, to be the next PA leader.

Pollard told Ma'ariv, in an interview published on Friday, "Barghouti is coming out. How do we know? We were told." Gaon then reported that Pollard said it was Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who had told him and his wife Esther about the release.

The earlier Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization later said that this was a misquote, and that in fact, Olmert had told a "close associate" of the Pollards.

"Specifically," the clarification stated, "Olmert said that Israel is grooming Barghouti and preparing him to be the next leader of the Palestinians. What is more, we were told that Barghouti intended to run for President of the PA against Abu Mazen - but [White House official] Elliot Abrams, during his visit to Israel, met with Barghouti's people. He gave them ironclad American promises regarding Barghouti, which induced Barghouti to drop out of the elections."

Yedioth Ahronoth reported two weeks ago that top Israeli officials have recommended that the government consider releasing Barghouti. The paper stated that the recommendation appears in a secret document that was recently given to senior security cabinet ministers.

Tanzim terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti was found guilty in May 2004 of three terror attacks involving the deaths of five Israelis, planning a fourth attack, and of membership in a terrorist organization. The Tel Aviv District court acquitted him of involvement in 33 other attacks, stating that the evidence against him in those cases was lacking. The Prosecution came under criticism for not succeeding in proving Barghouti's involvement in these incidents.

Pollard brought up the issue of Barghouti in order to highlight his future with that of Barghouti: "This is the way one goes about preparing someone for release. That is the point. The meeting with Barghouti was done in secret; promises were made to him; he was asked to keep a low profile. None of these things have happened in my case, in spite of all of the spin by Sharon's people."

Pollard had strong criticism of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, accusing him of leading a "corrupt, twisted, sick, self-centered political establishment;" of totally ignoring a straightforward initiative to release him that was proposed by someone with close ties to U.S. President George Bush and who said it would be "looked upon favorably" by Bush; and of telling the late Minister Rehavam Ze'evi that the only way he would bring Pollard home is in a coffin."

Regarding the last accusation, Pollard has written, "You [Ariel Sharon] never flinched when this was widely reported in the Israeli media. No shame, no embarrassment and not even a spurious denial. Arik, Arik, what is it that you have on your conscience that makes you fear and hate me so?"

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