Newsletter : 5fax0725.txt
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Two Israelis, One Gunman Dead in Gaza Shooting
By VOA News
Palestinian gunmen have ambushed a vehicle near a Gaza Strip border crossing, killing
two Israelis and wounding five others. Israeli troops returned fire and killed one gunman
following the attack Saturday at the Kissufim border crossing in southern Gaza. Local
security guards and soldiers killed both terrorists. Dov Kol, 58, and his wife Rachel, 53,
were returning to their home in Jerusalem after visiting Rachel's sister's family in Ganei
Tal in Gush Katif for the Sabbath. Three militant groups - Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigade and the Popular Resistance Committee - all claimed responsibility for the attack.
The violence came hours after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Palestinian leader
Mahmoud Abbas, and praised security efforts ahead of Israel's planned withdrawal from
Sharon Vows Tough Action Against Palestinian Militants
By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed "tough new measures" against Palestinian
terrorists if they stage attacks during or after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
At the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sharon told his ministers that Israel would
not put up with continued Palestinian attacks.
Sharon said he made it clear to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during their talks,
that Israel would react severely, with very tough measures if Palestinians launch attacks
either during or after Israel withdraws from Gaza. He said his message to Rice was very
clear on that point and left no room for doubt
Rice was in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and to ensure
Israel's disengagement from Gaza, due to begin in mid August stays on track. She met with
Sharon at his ranch in southern Israel on Friday. A senior Sharon aide would only say the
talks had been "very friendly and frank."
At a news conference in Ramallah on Saturday, Rice praised the Palestinian leadership
for its recent efforts to stop militants from launching attacks, but she said more needs
to be done. She also made it clear that Israel cannot close off and isolate Palestinians
living in Gaza after the withdrawal and she urged greater freedom of movement for
Palestinians in the West Bank as well and said movement between the West Bank and Gaza was
90 Dead in Sharm El-Sheik Terrorist Attacks
By IsraelNationalNews.com & VOA News
At least 90 people were killed and 200 injured, including one Israeli-Arab, in multiple
Friday night terrorist attacks at the Sharm El-Sheikh resort area in Sinai. Al-Qaeda
claimed responsibility. The resort area near the Red Sea has been the site of several
diplomatic meetings between Israel and various Arab countries, including the shaky
February cease-fire accord with the Palestinian Authority.
More than 10,000 Israelis were in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, despite warnings
from intelligence officials that the very high risk of terrorist attacks. More than 3,000
returned Saturday after the terrorist attacks, but another 1,000 crossed into Egypt from
Israel despite the bombings. Two car bombs exploded at 1:15 a.m. and ripped through the
Ghazala Gardens and Movenpick Hotels in Naama Bay, and a third bomb exploded at a coffee
shop in Sharm el-Sheikh, 2.5 miles away, killing European and Egyptian tourists.
Several of the injured were in critical condition. The dead include tourists from
England, Russia, the Netherlands and Arab countries. A website associated with Al-Qaeda
declared that the attacks were carried out against "Crusaders, Zionists and the renegade
Egyptian security officers have conducted raids and detained dozens of potential
suspects in Sharm al-Sheikh. After visiting the blast site, a resolute President Hosni
Mubarak said the attacks would make Egypt more determined than ever to pursue terrorism
and "dig it out by the roots."
With many tourists departing, and security officials streaming in, Sharm al-Sheikh is a
different town than it was days ago. Video images show empty restaurants and deserted
shops. One storeowner said, aside from the human tragedy, there will be a heavy financial
price to pay, as the resort relies on tourism. "Life in Egypt now is difficult," he said.
"I come here to work, to make good business. I cannot believe [what has happened]. This is
a big, big problem." Another shop owner said flatly, "business is finished here."
Catch 22: U.S. Court Rejects Pollard Appeal
A U.S. Federal Appeals Court Friday turned down an appeal by Jonathan Pollard to reduce
his life sentence. The judges ruled Pollard had waited too long to challenge the 1987
decision. Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment for passing intelligence information
to Israel when he worked in the Pentagon as a civilian Naval analyst.
Pollard's lawyer argued that they were denied access to secret documents on which the
production based their case. The District of Columbia three-member court ruled as
"nonsensical" Pollard's argument that he did not realize mistakes made by his lawyers
during the original trial.
"Pollard knew the facts," Judge David Sentelle wrote in the decision. "What he now
claims not to have known is the legal significance of these facts." Pollard's lawyer,
Eliot Lauer, said that he would consider filing a request for a rehearing from the full
Appeals Court, or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. "We hope that in time the American
judicial system will give Jonathan Pollard his rightful day in court and that justice will
be done," Lauer said.
Pollard, who will turn 51 next month, was arrested in November 1985 after
unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. He is serving his
sentence at a federal penitentiary in Butner, N.C.
It's Official: Son of Chabad Movement's Founder Converted to Catholicism
Documents have recently come to light proving that the youngest son of the founder of
the Chabad movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Russia, converted to Catholicism.
For 180 years, the conversion of Moshe Zalmanovitch (son of Zalman) has been difficult
for Chabad Hassidim and the Hassidic world in general to accept. Now, it will be difficult
Rumors of the conversion of Moshe and conversions in other Hassidic families were rife in
the 19th century, fueled by members of the Enlightenment who, in spite of their
worldview, nevertheless excoriated such moves.
Chabad denied the rumors vehemently over the years, presenting alternative versions of
the life of the rabbi's youngest son, a married father of four. But documents, copies of
which are in Jerusalem, prove the rumors true. The original documents are located in the
national historical archives in Minsk, the capital of Byelorussia.
Five years ago, Tel Aviv University historian Prof. David Assaf wrote an article about
Moshe for the Hebrew periodical Tzion, surveying evidence proving and disproving the
Assaf concluded that the facts were irrefutable: a conversion indeed had taken place.
However, he expressed the hope that in the rich trove of archives in the former Soviet
Union, undiscovered documents would shed more light on the subject.
Assaf's hopes were fulfilled. Following publication of his article, Hebrew University
Prof. Shaul Stempfer searched the archives, and found two files of documents that had
once belonged to the Catholic Church in the area of Mohilev in eastern Byelorussia. The
documents, written in Russian, Polish and Latin, are devoted to Moshe's conversion.
Emissaries of the Central Archives photographed the files for the History of the Jewish
People at the Hebrew University, and archivist Benjamin Lukin allowed Ha'aretz to look at
some of them.
One of the most important documents is a letter written by Moshe on July 1, 1820. It
was addressed to a Polish priest named Siodlovsky, in the Polish city of Ulla, where
Moshe lived after his marriage.
The 36-year-old Moshe wrote he had long sought to become Roman Catholic. He said the
Jews had tried to prevent him from doing so by watching him constantly, beating him and
threatening him. However, he wrote: "I have remained steadfast in my desire to take upon
myself the true faith of Jesus Christ, to which the holy books and all the prophets
The declaration was made before Christian witnesses, officers and clerks, whose names
and occupations are noted in the document. They signed, certifying that the writer of the
declaration was "of sound mind." Thus, Moshe son of Zalman became Leon Yoleivitch.
Of sound mind? Opinions are divided on that point, to put it mildly. Jewish sources,
even those who deny the conversion, mainly agree that Moshe had suffered from mental
problems since childhood. On the other hand, senior Catholic figures who examined Moshe
after his conversion tended to affirm the act, claiming he had pretended to be insane for
fear of the Jews.
Subsequently, the recently discovered documents reveal, even the priests realized that
the new convert was mentally unstable, and sent him to the village of Lubavitch where his
brother, the rabbinic leader Dov Baer, was living. Eventually, Moshe-Leon announced his
intention to become Eastern Orthodox.
He was brought to St. Petersburg where he became an adviser to the Tzar, Alexander
Nicolaevich Golitzin, whose vision was to convert the Jews. After his mental state
deteriorated, he was sent to a clinic for nervous disorders in St. Petersburg, where he
Assaf believes it was Moshe's mental state that led him to convert. Were there other
motives, such as anger against his older brother, or pressure from a Christian friend?
These and other questions are the subject of a book written by Assaf that will be
published this year. In any case, the documents and testimony, old and new, shed
fascinating light on the history of the Jewish people in Russia.
The Israeli Maccabiah Games - Never a Dull Moment
By www.OneJerusalem.com (Commentary)
The 17th Maccabiah games (AKA. Jewish Olympics) concluded last week. In an event that
happens every four years, more than 7,000 athletes from 55 countries participated in the
events. The ceremonies were impressive, big, colorful and uniquely Israeli, with real
world-class events with a reported 30,000 in attendance. Run loosely along Olympic
guidelines, the 11-day event included athletics, swimming, football and tennis as well as
lawn bowls, chess, bridge, netball and cricket.
Senior members of government, all sitting behind bulletproof glass, attended the
opening ceremonies. Sharon in his address basically tried to encourage Aliyah (a permanent
return to Israel) and took the opportunity to blatantly tell the athletes to basically
stick around when the games are all done. There is traditionally a certain percentage that
remains after these events.
And now for something completely "different", Shas Party (the main religious party)
Chairman, Eli Yishai, attacked the 17th Maccabiah management for desecrating Shabbat by
requiring personnel to work on Saturday to prepare for the dress rehearsal of the opening
ceremony. He said their actions were a "disgrace" that crossed red lines. Yishai said a
worker told him he and his friends had to start preparing for Saturday night's dress
rehearsal before the end of Shabbat. The worker refused to reveal his identity out of fear
they would lose their jobs. Funnily enough it seems that this employee would rather keep
his Shabbat desecrating job then quit.
Maccabiah spokespeople responded by saying, "We would be happy to see Yishai among the
Knesset Members and government ministers that will partake in this international event."
In short telling Yishai to take a flying leap, you gotta love it.
Unfortunately, the next day after the opening ceremonies a suicide bomber drove into
the center of Netanya, approximately 35 minutes from Tel Aviv, blowing up, killing four
women and wounding 90 people. The blast took place outside a busy downtown shopping mall.
An hour earlier, the Dutch soccer team attending the Maccabiah games left that same mall
for soccer practice. The team stayed at a local Netanya hotel and after the blast several
team members said they wanted to go home. Several forum posts on local news sites
suggested the players try London.
Their team manager said, "Most of our players are in shock, and we do not know how they
will deal with it. Most of them want to leave Israel as soon as possible, because they are
not used to such a thing. I will try to convince them to stay for the games, but it is
their individual decision."
And in all this, a truly great story, an Israeli Arab teenage girl from the town of
Sakhnin became one of the first medallists in this year's Maccabiah Games with a victory
in the women's 200-meter breast stroke in the Wingate Institute pool, causing a wave of
pride in her father, family and community. Halaj Shahada, proud father of Asala, 17, said
there would be celebrations in Sakhnin following her gold medal win. "The Maccabiah
belongs not only to all the Jews, but also to all the Israelis, and I am a proud Israeli,"
Wish we had more of these stories. Israeli Olympics, never a dull moment.
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