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Yad Vashem Warns Against Ignoring Iranian Holocaust Denial


Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, stated Wednesday, "The international community must act to prevent genocidal intentions from becoming genocidal capabilities." He warned there are clear ties between Muslim radicals and Holocaust deniers, such as David Irving of England. Shalev said that Holocaust deniers "find a responsive audience in Iran" and noted that Iranian journalists are covering a conference of called to "examine in-depth this myth" that the Holocaust occurred.

Skinhead Stabs 11 at Moscow Synagogue
Israel Faxx News Services, & Ha'aretz

A man stabbed at least 11 worshippers at Moscow's filled Chabad Bronnaya Synagogue just before Wednesday's evening service. The man, identified by police as Alexander Koptsev, 20, struck out at random before being pushed to the ground by Rabbi Yitzhak Kogan, who had also been stabbed along with his son.

The Muscovite skinhead was arrested in connection with the attack, and the police said he faced charges including hate-based attempted murder. Koptsev "shouted words that showed he was motivated by ethnic and religious hatred," chief Moscow prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev told reporters outside the synagogue.

Police and security services said they assumed the stabber belonged to a skinhead group with a nationalist, right wing and anti-Semitic ideology

Among those wounded were Russians, three Israelis, an American and a resident of Tajikistan. Four of the injured men were taken to hospital in serious condition.

Witnesses said the attacker, who looked like a skinhead, shouted, "I came to kill you" as he went on the rampage. Police have arrested the attacker who said he came "to kill Jews."

Interfax quoted the rabbi of the synagogue, "It was evening prayers. I heard cries. I left off praying and saw a man I didn't know running away from me." Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, who is visiting in Jerusalem, declared the attack was part of growing racism in Russia. He immediately prepared to return to Russia after hearing of the incident.

The attack came amid an increase in the activity of hate groups in Russia and in the number of racist crimes. "If today's act does not sound an alarm, society faces grave danger," said Borukh Gorin, chief spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia. "Fascism will come knocking at the door of every citizen if we do not take serious measures now."

"This was not a game, he was out to kill," said Iosif Ostrovsky, a rabbinical student who said he saw the assailant stab several people - aiming at their necks, heads or upper bodies. He said the man also shouted "Heil Hitler!"

A kitchen worker who gave her name only as Svetlana said the man assaulted people in downstairs kitchen area after entering the building. "I saw people lying on the floor, cut and bloodied," she said.

Russian news reports said the country's top prosecutor, Vladimir Ustinov, was personally taking control of the investigation.

The dominant Russian Orthodox Church, which has made efforts to reach out to Jewish officials in a country with a history of pogroms and anti-Semitism, condemned the attack and calls for action by the state and society to stem violence.

"Law enforcement agencies and authorities and all of society must do everything so that such a thing is not repeated," according to a church spokesman.

Billionaire industrialist Arkady Gaydamak, who lives near the synagogue, arrived at the site. Gaydamak, who is due to return to Israel on his private jet Thursday to sign over a $50 million donation to the Jewish Agency, offered to fly the injured Israelis home on his plane and gave instruction for a medical team to accompany them on the flight.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Wednesday instructed the charge d'affaires in Israel's embassy in Moscow to convey a sharp message to the Russian Foreign Ministry that Israel expects Russia to take firm measures against such anti-Semitic events. The embassy has already asked for an update from the police investigation of the incident. Shalom wished the injured people a speedy recovery.

And in a Paris suburb, two 11-year-old Jewish boys wearing yarmulkes were attacked in front of a train station The boys were approached by four or five men of African and Arab origin, who hurled racial epithets at them before striking one of the boys to the ground and holding the other forcefully.

A 22-year-old Jewish man tried to intervene and was struck on the head, the chest, and grabbed by the throat. The three victims were picked up by ambulance and taken to the hospital, while the aggressors fled on a bus. A police investigation is under way.

UK Muslim Cleric: Hitler Sent Because Jews Were Blasphemous, Dirty

By Reuters

Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri wanted a caliph sitting in the White House and said Hitler was sent into the world because Jews were blasphemous and dirty, a London court heard on Wednesday.

Hamza, 47, is the most high-profiled figure to go on trial in Britain on charges of incitement to murder and stirring up racial hatred since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York. Interest in the case has increased since suicide bombings on London's transport system last July killed 52 people.

Prosecutor David Perry said the Egyptian-born cleric used public meetings at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London and private meetings to incite his followers to kill non-Muslims.

"The prosecution case is, in one sentence, that Sheik Abu Hamza was preaching murder and hatred in these talks," Perry told the Old Bailey court. "He makes calls for a world dominated by a caliph, sitting, as he puts it, in the White House. In one of his lectures, he accused the Jews of being blasphemous, treacherous and dirty. This, because of their treachery and their blasphemy and their filth, was why Hitler was sent into the world," Perry said.

Hamza faces nine counts of using public meetings to incite his followers to kill non-Muslims and four other charges that he urged the killing of Jews. He is also accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting behavior with intent to stir up racial hatred, along with one charge of possessing threatening, abusive or insulting sound recordings, and another count under anti-terrorism laws.

Hamza has denied all the charges. The charges relate to nine videotapes seized when Hamza was arrested on May 27, 2004. Eight were at his home and one was at another address. The tapes were among 2,700 audio and 570 videotapes seized.

The first recording the that jury was to hear, Perry said, was made at what the prosecution believed to be a private meeting in Whitechapel, east London, in 1997 or 1998. "The defendant says that Muslims living in this country are living in a toilet -- they are living like animals. He calls on his audience to sacrifice themselves in order to establish the caliphate."

Perry said Hamza also had in his possession "The Encyclopedia of Afghani Jihad" that ran for 10 volumes. "It was a manual that would assist any person who was likely to be involved in the preparation or actual carrying out of terrorism activity," adding the manual explained how to make explosives and gave detailed instructions on assassination methods.

Perry told the jury they would hear how Hamza told his followers it was their "religious duty to fight in the cause of Allah, God." The prosecutor said Hamza had frequently made clear that leaders of Arab nations who were friendly to the West and Israel were legitimate targets. Perry said he criticized Saudi Arabia as a country "that has been stolen by an evil family", a reference to the Saudi royal family. "The real reason he criticizes that country is because it has links with the United States and links with Europe."

If found guilty, Hamza, who has lost both hands and an eye, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Israel Cuts Ties With Evangelical Broadcaster Over Sharon Stroke Comments

By VOA News & Ha'aretz

Israeli officials said they would not work with U.S. evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson on a planned Christian tourism venture after he suggested that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for the Gaza Strip pullout.

Last week, Robertson implied that Sharon's massive stroke January 4 was a blow for "dividing God's land" with the withdrawal from Gaza and four West Bank settlements.

A spokesman for Israel's tourism minister condemned Robertson's comment last week that God punished Sharon "for dividing Israel." The spokesman said the Tourism Ministry would no longer work with the television evangelist, or anyone else who agrees with his views, on the planned "Christian Heritage Center" in northern Israel.

The controversial preacher heads a group of Christian evangelicals who are trying to raise $50 million for a 14-hectare tourist venue in northern Galilee where Christians believe Jesus lived and taught. Israel had been considering leasing the land to the group for free, anticipating millions of dollars in tourism revenue.

The decision, announced Wednesday by Israeli officials, does not spill over to other Christian groups that also consider it their spiritual duty to support Israel as fulfillment of biblical prophecy and for some as an essential step to bring Judgment Day.

Israeli leaders see the Christian allies as tireless lobbyists in Washington and elsewhere. The evangelicals also funnel millions of dollars each year to Jewish settlers in the West Bank and - before last year's pullout - the Gaza Strip.

Robertson is leading a group of evangelicals who have pledged to raise $50 million to build the Christian Heritage Center in Israel's northern Galilee region, where tradition says Jesus lived and taught.

Under a tentative agreement, Robertson's group was to put up the funding, while Israel would provide land and infrastructure. But the fate of the project is now in question, said Ido Hartuv, spokesman for the tourism ministry.

"We will not do business with him, only with other evangelicals who don't back these comments," Hartuv said. "We will do business with other evangelical leaders, friends of Israel, but not with him."

In Virginia Beach, Virginia, a spokeswoman for Robertson's ministry declined to comment on Israel's decision. "We have not talked to the Israelis on this topic," said spokeswoman Angell Watts. "We continue to maintain our long-standing commitment to the Jewish people and the state of Israel."

Robertson's comments on Sharon drew condemnation from other Christian leaders and even President George W. Bush. "God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club." "You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine."'

The "Christian Zionist" movement began to take shape in the 19th century, but in recent decades it's strengthened into a powerful force with deep pockets. Some estimates place the annual figure of evangelical aid to Israel at more than $25 million. The Gaza withdrawal has become a new and potent rallying point.

In October, a group of Gaza settlers received a standing ovation from more than 5,000 Christians at Jerusalem conference sponsored by the International Christian Embassy, a private agency that promotes Christian ties Israel.

Robertson's Christian Heritage Center is planned for 35 acres (14 hectares) of rolling Galilee hills near key Christian sites such as Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes, where tradition says Jesus delivered the Sermon of the Mount, and Tabgha - on the shores of the Sea of Galilee - where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fish. Israel was considering leasing the land to the Christians for free.

Hartuv left the door open to continuing the project, but only with people who don't back Robertson's statements. "We want to see who in the group supports his (Robertson's) statements. Those who support the statements cannot do business with us. Those that publicly support Ariel Sharon's recovery ... are welcome to do business with us," Hartuv said. "We have to check this very, very carefully."

Hamas Proves a Sticking Point in Upcoming Palestinian Elections

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Washington)

Israel is moving closer to allowing Palestinians living in East Jerusalem to vote in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections. The dispute over the issue has put the balloting in jeopardy and the snag was the terrorist Islamic group, Hamas.

Israel argued that Hamas should not be allowed to take part in the Palestinian elections. Unable to stop the Islamic group's participation, Israel said it would not facilitate the balloting and might bar Palestinians living in East Jerusalem from voting.

The issue appears near resolution with the Israeli Cabinet expected to vote Sunday on letting Palestinians cast absentee ballots, as they've been allowed to do in the past, as long as no Hamas candidates are on the list.

The participation of Hamas in the elections has put Israel and the U.S. in a bind. Washington, in particular, has put considerable pressure on the Palestinians to implement democratic reforms, including free and fair elections. Yet, there is growing concern about the involvement of a group that has called for Israel's destruction, claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombings and has been labeled a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and a host of other countries.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there should be "no place in the political process for groups or individuals who refuse to renounce terror and violence," refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, and refuse to disarm.

Yet, last week she responded to suggestions that the elections be postponed, because of Hamas' potentially strong showing, saying it was not something Washington could support. "I don't really believe that we can favor postponing elections because we fear an outcome," she said. "I think that would be inappropriate."

Hamas has enjoyed traditionally strong support in the Gaza Strip, but its showing in recent municipal elections indicates a growing strength in the West Bank as well. While many Palestinians do not support Hamas' suicide attacks, they do see the group as a strong opponent of Israel's occupation. Many also rely on the social and medical help Hamas dispenses to the poor.

Hamas has not been tainted by allegations of widespread corruption - unlike the ruling Fatah party. And while Fatah has been ripped apart by internal disputes and chaos, Hamas has maintained cohesion and discipline.

Hamas' standing has steadily increased in recent years and some say it was actually aided by Israel and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's tough crackdown against the Palestinian uprising, the intifada.

Ariel Sharon Remains Under Light Sedation

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's aides purposely hid from the public an illness in his blood because they feared people would think he had Alzheimer's disease, Channel 10 television reported Wednesday night.

Sources close to the Prime Minister and those who were involved in his medical care were quoted as saying that the symptoms of the problems were similar to those of Alzheimer's. "We did not talk about it because we did not want to arouse claims during the election campaign that Prime Minister Sharon might suffer from Alzheimer's. It is obvious what this [claim] would do the elections," they said.

Doctors treating Sharon said he remains under light sedation at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital. Sharon's doctors said he continues to show slight improvement. Sharon's doctors said earlier they planned to stop administering all anesthetics to him. But, in a brief statement issued late in the day, hospital officials said Israel's prime minister would remain under what they described as light sedation.

In other news, a new poll shows Sharon's Kadima Party as the party to beat in the elections. The poll projects Kadima, with Ehud Olmert as a candidate for prime minister, winning more than 40 seats in the 120 seat Knesset - enough to form a coalition government.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak told Channel One television Wednesday night that he will join the Kadima party. Barak has been sitting on the fence and negotiating since Amir Peretz was elected chairman of the Labor party. He refused to answer suggestions that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would prefer him as Defense Minister instead of Shaul Mofaz, who currently holds the post and has joined Kadima.

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