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New Online Resource at Yad Vashem


Israel's Holocaust memorial launched a new online resource center to coincide with the United Nations' first Holocaust Remembrance Day, taking place this week. Information at the Yad Vashem site includes survivor testimonies on video, a database of Holocaust victims' names, suggested educational activities and online exhibitions. The URL is

Israel Hints at Military Action Against Iran

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem). Ha'aretz &

Israel is threatening to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear program.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has hinted that Israel is preparing for military action against Iran's nuclear facilities. "Israel cannot accept an Iranian nuclear capability and it must defend itself, with all that that implies," Mofaz said. "We are preparing," he added.

But Mofaz said international diplomacy must be the first course of action. He welcomed the U.S.-led effort to bring Iran before the U.N. Security Council, saying sanctions and international oversight of Iran's nuclear program are the "correct policy at this time."

Israel has expressed growing alarm about Iran's nuclear program since late October, when the Iranian president called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map." Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said the U.S. and Europe must move more quickly to prevent Iran from acquiring the atom bomb. "The combination of a regime with a very radical agenda, put together with nuclear weapons, I think that is a combination, a dangerous combination that no one in the international community can accept," said Regev.

The Israeli air force destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. And Israeli officials have warned repeatedly that if diplomacy fails, there is a military option.

Iran has released a warning to Israel that it would be a "fatal error" to take any offensive military action against its ongoing nuclear program, adding Israeli threats are "child's play." Iran's Foreign Minister released the statement in response to Defense Minister Mofaz's statements that Israel would not permit Iran to achieve nuclear independence.

"We are dealing with psychological warfare," stated the senior Iranian official, adding, "Israel knows what a fatal error a military strike would be."

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Israel was only trying to add to Western pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear program. "We consider Mofaz's comments a from of psychological warfare. Israel knows just how much of a fatal mistake it would be [to attack Iran]. This is just a childish game by Israel."

Israel, which views Iran as a major threat, has joined Washington in charging that Tehran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for electricity generation.

Mofaz said that Iran poses a threat not only to Israel, but also to the entire world. He regarded Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "an oppressor" and Syrian President Bashar Assad as "an optometrist with no vision."

The defense minister reiterated his accusations that Iran funds terror against Israel, a claim he made Thursday after Islamic Jihad carried out a suicide bombing in southern Tel Aviv.

According to Mofaz, Iran last year transferred $100 million to Hizbullah to fund terror activities, some of which was transferred to Palestinian organizations. Islamic Jihad, he said, received more than $10 million from Iran and Hizbullah last year.

The speech addressed the Iranian people directly, with Mofaz saying, "Ahmedinejad, his hallucinatory statements, his criminal actions and his extreme views will bring disaster upon you. Do what you understand needs to be done in order to prevent this."

Mofaz also said Ahmedinejad should look at historical examples of others who tried to destroy the Jewish people. "You, who are leading your country in an ideology of hatred, terror and anti-Semitism. You had better take a glance at history and see what became of tyrants like you who tried to annihilate the Jewish people. They only brought destruction upon their own people," he said.

Ahmedinejad has said that Israel should be "wiped off the map" and has questioned whether the Holocaust took place.

Brother of Rabin Assassin Convicted of Threatening Sharon

By VOA News

The brother of the man who assassinated Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin has been found guilty of threatening to kill Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Hagai Amir was convicted Sunday by an Israeli court of making the threat in October of 2004, long before Sharon suffered a stroke which has left him in a coma.

Hagai Amir is the brother of Yigal Amir, an Israeli ultra nationalist who killed Rabin at a peace rally in 1995. Hagai Amir is serving an 18-year prison sentence for his part in that assassination.

He has now also been found guilty of threatening Sharon's life in a conversation with prison guards, who say Hagai Amir told them he could destroy the Israeli leader by simply making a phone call. The court rejected Amir's argument that the comment was meant to be a joke.

Illegal Procedure Blocking Converts' Immigration Still on Books

By Ha'aretz

Orit Payares converted to Judaism four months ago in Miami. She would like to come to live in Israel, but she has been informed by the Jewish Agency emissary in Miami that she would receive a visa only after she proved she had been a member of a local congregation for a year.

In doing so, the Jewish Agency invoked an Interior Ministry procedure struck down by the High Court of Justice in March 2005 - but still on the books - Ha'aretz has learned.

In May 2005, then-interior minister Ophir Pines-Paz told the Knesset that the procedure had been canceled. However, the Jewish Agency confirmed this week that its emissaries continue to follow it.

The Jewish Agency said the Interior Ministry never informed it of a new procedure. The Interior Ministry said the procedure had in fact not been canceled, but contended that its clerks had been instructed to ignore it.

Payares, 26, a Colombian citizen, came to the U.S. in 2003 to visit a family member. During her visit, she met Eitan Gilboa, a 34-year-old Israeli, who worked with the family member in a clothing store. Two years later, Gilboa and Payares decided to marry and move to Israel. "It was clear to both of us that Orit would convert when we made things official," Gilboa said.

Last August, Payares converted in the Miami rabbinic court. Gilboa returned to Israel to look for work and housing, but Payares was told she could not receive a visa without an affidavit from a local congregation stating she had been a member for at least a year following her conversion.

Gilboa, who has not seen Payares for almost six months, said the couple would have no choice but for Orit to come to Israel as a tourist and begin her conversion procedure again.

Itim, the Jewish Life Information Center, which assists prospective converts through the process, said it has dealt with more than 10 cases like Payares' over the past year. "The Interior Ministry has a policy of slamming the door in the faces of converts," Itim Director Shaul Farber said. "Beyond the illegality of it, this is immoral behavior against Jewish law and tradition."

The state told the High Court that the Interior Ministry had instituted the demand that converts be members of congregations abroad for a year before coming to live in Israel to prevent people from converting abroad to obtain citizenship or a work permit. However in March 2005, an expanded panel of 11 justices ruled that the state may not limit the right of Jews to immigrate to Israel.

In spite of the abrogation of the rule, Jewish Agency spokesman Semyon Dovzhik said its emissaries continued to demand that potential immigrants produce proof of yearlong membership in local congregations.

Population Administration spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said the procedure was still on the books only because a new procedure had not been determined, and that work on a new procedure was ongoing.

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