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Weizmann Institute Voted World´s Best University for Life Sciences


Scientist magazine has ranked the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot as the world's top university in the world for life scientists. Two Canadian Universities were ranked second and third. The survey was based on responses of more than 2,600 academics that ranked relationships with their peers, a sense of accomplishment and access to research resources. The university is named after Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president and the founder of the institute.

Peres Ousted as Israeli Labor Party Chief

By VOA News

Israel's elder statesman, Nobel laureate Shimon Peres, has been ousted as the Labor party leader by a trade unionist that says he will quit the ruling coalition government and force early elections. Trade union chief Amir Peretz won a vote among 100,000 rank-and-file Labor Party members Thursday. A short while after his upset win, Peretz said he would press Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to set a date for national elections.

Peretz linked Labor's pullout from the ruling coalition to party opposition to free market reforms and spending cuts. Peres brought his party into the ruling coalition last year as a junior partner to help back Sharon's evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. Most analysts had expected Peres, a former prime minister, to retain his party's leadership post.

Peres on Thursday said he was considering retirement from political life following his stunning defeat in the party leadership race to the fiery Histadrut labor federation chairman Amir Peretz. Meeting with Labor ministers hours after the dramatic primary vote, Peres said he would take time off in order to mull his next moves, and that he would not take part in Friday's Labor Knesset faction meeting. Eighty-two-year-old Peres has yet to call Peretz to congratulate him for his election as party leader. Before the elections, Peres avoided a commitment to rally behind Peretz if elected.

Several hours after he was announced as the new leader of the Labor Party, Peretz returned to his political roots to outline his political vision as the Labor candidate for premiership. Speaking near the grave of slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the Mount Hertzl cemetery in Jerusalem, Peretz stressed that reaching a peace accord with the Palestinians is at the top of his political priority list. "We will not rest until we reach a permanent agreement (with the Palestinians) that would secure a safe future for our children and that would provide us with renewed hope to live in a region where people lead a life of cooperation and not, God forbid, where blood is shed from time to time."

The new Labor chairman emphasized this move is a direct continuation of Rabin's political heritage: "I came today to make a vow to Rabin, once again, that I intend to do everything I can to continue his way, I intend to do everything I can so that [Rabin's] assassin would know he failed to murder peace."

Peretz recounted his long tenure as a loyal supporter of the late prime minister: "I was by Rabin's side in the days he struggled for his place in Israeli politics, I was with him in his days of isolation, and also in the days of overwhelming support from the people of Israel when they flooded him with warmth and admiration. I was also next to him on that dreadful night when we lost Yitzhak (Rabin) in the murder that shocked Israel and sought to sever and end his life and his way."

Peretz, a fiery union leader, wants to steer the party back to its socialist roots, pull out of the coalition and force early elections. His message has resonated with Israelis disenfranchised by government cuts in social spending and the country's growing gap between rich and poor. Shortly after 6 a.m., amid cheering from Peretz's supporters, Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel announced that Peretz had won with 42.35 percent of the votes, while Peres was backed by 39.96 percent of voters. In third place was Benjamin Ben Eliezer, with 16.82 percent of the vote.

Jordanians Take to the Streets, Protest Terrorism

By VOA News

Jordanians reacted with shock, anger and defiance Thursday to terrorist attacks on Wednesday that left 56 people dead and more than 100 others wounded. Thousands took to the streets on Thursday to protest the attacks.

It appears a second Israeli is among the dead in the suicide bombing attacks The second victim is believed to be an Israeli Arab resident of the eastern capital. The first victim has been identified as a 40-year-old Israeli Arab businessman from Um el-Fahm. Also killed in the attacks were a number of Palestinian Authority (PA) officials.

Thousands of Jordanians marched through the streets of the capital on Thursday shouting defiance and anger at the attacks that struck at the heart of the capital on Wednesday. There was little sign of physical destruction at the three hotels where the attacks took place. A heavy police presence kept onlookers well away. Subdued crowds stood in the parking lots of the buildings, waiting to join marchers as they walked through the city.

Jordan's 14 professional groups and trade unions organized the Amman demonstrations. Among the participants were Islamic groups and leftist political organizations, encompassing a wide range Jordanians from many walks of life.

The attacks Wednesday night struck at the heart of upscale Amman, and many in that community such as a young banker, Khalil, who declined to give his last name voiced defiance. "If you are hearing what they are saying they are all saying we are not afraid," he said. "This is not the beginning of a new phase, this is just an act of aggression on Jordan that will not be repeated."

Jordanian authorities have pledged to hunt down the members of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "al-Qaida in Iraq" terrorist organization, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Authorities say a number of suspects have been rounded up, but at a press conference Thursday, Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister, Marwan Muasher declined to give details about the investigation. "I will not talk in details about arrests so far," he said. "There are a number of leads but it would not be useful for me to comment on them." The investigation is still ongoing, and it would not be wise for me to comment on details. I will any further at this time."

In Washington, President Bush phoned King Abdullah to extend his condolences and offer assistance and support against terrorists. President Bush says the world looked on in horror as innocent people were killed in Amman. "The bombings should remind all of us that there is an enemy in this world that is willing to kill innocent people, willing to bomb a wedding celebration in order to advance their cause," he said, adding that those who love freedom and respect every human life must stand together to take on the terrorists. "We have an obligation and a duty to remain strong and remain firm and to bring these people to justice."

Jordanian authorities are tightening security, as investigators hunt for the masterminds of three suicide bombings at Western-owned hotels in the capital, Amman. Al-Qaida in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the blasts. Almost immediately after the suicide attacks, authorities said they bore the hallmarks of Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Thursday, those suspicions appeared to be confirmed, when Zarqawi's group, al-Qaida in Iraq, claimed responsibility through an Internet posting.

The statement said Amman is what it called the "backyard garden for Jews and U.S. crusaders" in Iraq. Although the claim could not be immediately verified, Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister, Marwan Muasher, said Zarqawi is a prime suspect.

In Jerusalem, Israel's Finance Minister, Ehud Olmert, condemned the attacks. "This is a terrible event. It only shows how dangerous and volatile the area is, and how much we all have to be dedicated to fighting terror and in taking the necessary measures in order to stop it."

Hizbullah Denies Carrying Out Bombing of Argentina Jewish Center

By Reuters

Lebanon's Hizbullah terrorist group on Thursday denied accusations by an Argentine prosecutor it was behind the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisma on Wednesday identified the suspected mastermind behind the attacks as Ibrahim Hussein Berro and said there was strong evidence he was a Hizbullah member.

"These accusations are categorically false... They come in the context of the Israeli propaganda against Hizbullah," the group, which is backed by Iran and Syria, said in a statement. "The martyr Ibrahim Hussein Berro was among the mujahedeen (fighters) brothers who were martyred during a confrontation between the Islamic Resistance (Hizbullah) and the Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon," it said.

It was the first time that Argentine authorities had named the prime suspect behind the attacks. Nisma said Berro's identity was determined with the help of U.S. investigators. But Hizbullah, which was instrumental in ending the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, said Berro's body was still held by Israel "along with the bodies of tens of other resistance martyrs."

Argentine, Israeli and U.S. officials have long blamed the bombings on Hizbullah. No one has been convicted of carrying out the attack that also wounded 200 people despite a lengthy probe. In September 2004, five former police officers, which had been accused of supplying the vehicle used in the bombing, were acquitted.

In March 1992, a blast at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 people, a case that remains unresolved.

'The Chief of Staff is Transient - The Torah is Not'


Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan is demanding that the hesder (joint Torah study and military service) yeshiva in the Shomron town of Elon Moreh be dismantled due to the head rabbi's views on refusal. The reason for Halutz's demand is that the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, called upon his students to refuse orders to take part in the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria.

The Chief of Staff praised soldiers from hesder yeshivas this past week while leveling harsh criticism against those academies from which calls to refuse orders emanated. Halutz wrote to Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz recently requesting that the yeshiva be dissolved. In addition to the effort to close Elon Moreh's yeshiva, Halutz plans on working to close three other schools. There are ongoing efforts within the IDF to gather evidence against rabbis who advised their students to refuse orders. The decision to dismantle a hesder yeshiva must be made by Defense Minister Mofaz who according to law is responsible for the arrangement that enables such academies to incorporate Torah study into the five-year military program.

Rabbi Levanon told Arutz-7's Yigal Schok that what is on the agenda is the frontal conflict of the Torah and Jewish law with the law of the state. He said that at a time when he did his best to reduce that conflict, he is faced with the fact that a man who calls for acting in accordance with Jewish law is threatened with losing his job and position. The yeshiva, he said, would continue to operate regardless of what happens. "I am not worried about me and I am not worried about the yeshiva. But if the army wishes it and the state feels the need to behave this way instead of protecting real freedom of expression and religious honesty - and if the other rabbis and rosh yeshivas are not bothered that when someone expresses his religious truth he is fired for it - then the yeshiva will give up its hesder status."

Levanon is not phased by the prospect of losing hesder status and says he would always choose expressing his honest view of the word of Torah over subjecting his Torah study academy to the whims of the political system. "We will wait for other times, because there will always be a different Chief of Staff and different decisions - all subject to change. The yeshiva and the Torah, however, are not subject to change and they will stand. The Torah truth will continue to make its own way."

Levanon added that if defenders of both Torah and democracy did not come out against such a decision - Torah personalities, yeshiva heads, the association of hesder yeshivas and chief rabbinate - they must take into account that today they are closing a yeshiva for this reason and tomorrow they will close a yeshiva for another reason. Today they are closing a hesder yeshiva and tomorrow they will close a huge rabbinical seminary because the rosh yeshiva said something that upset someone in the state's top brass, and eventually the Torah will be pushed into a remote corner - 'to await the coming of the messiah.' "

Holocaust Denier's Trial Postponed

By Reuters

The Mannheim, Germany trial of Ernst Zuendel, a prominent German Holocaust denier deported from Canada earlier this year, was delayed shortly after it started yesterday after the judge dismissed part of his defense team. Zuendel, the 66-year-old publisher of works such as "Did six million really die?" is facing charges of inciting racial hatred and denying that the Nazis murdered six million Jews during World War Two. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Judge Ulrich Meinerzhagen ruled that Horst Mahler, a disbarred lawyer associated with the violent far-left Red Army Faction in the 1970s who has since become a supporter of far-right and anti-Semitic ideas, could not be part of the defense team. He also dismissed Zuendel's publicly appointed defender, Sylvia Stolz, on the grounds that Mahler's ideas were reflected in her written submissions to the court. Mahler, whose license to practice as a lawyer was withdrawn last year, was sentenced to nine months in prison in January for inciting racial hatred.

Meinerzhagen said the court would have to consider how to proceed with the case, which began Wednesday and was originally scheduled to run for five days. Zuendel said he was satisfied with the other members of the defense team he had appointed himself, but the judge insisted on a new public defender being appointed to ensure smooth handling of the trial. Zuendel, a German citizen who has spent much of his life in Canada and whose name is sometimes spelled Zundel, ran a "revisionist" web site denying the Holocaust took place that is now run from the United States by his wife. He was deported from Canada after being judged a threat to national security.

India Forces Israel to Stop Conversions


The Indian government has pressured Israel into ordering a halt to conversions in India of members of the Bnei Menashe community, who are considered a "lost tribe" dating back more than 2,500 years. Israel recently authorized rabbis to travel and convert Bnei Menashe members in their own communities in order to ease their immigration to Israel. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had authorized the conversions, saying that he recognized the members as Israelites who followed Jewish laws and traditions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "The Indian authorities, through official channels, told us they do not view positively initiated efforts at conversions to other religions." He said a Knesset committee has asked the government to reconsider the location of the conversions.

Nearly 1,000 members of the community have moved to Israel and a large number live in Judea and Samaria. Several families also lived in the dismantled communities in Gush Katif. About 6,000 families of the community remain in India.

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