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WJC: Iranian Terror a Threat to Small Jewish Communities

By Ha'aretz

Iran's support for terrorist organizations threatens the safety of small, isolated Jewish communities worldwide, Edgar Bronfman, the president of the World Jewish Congress, warned.

Bronfman is attending a meeting of the WJC's board of governors in Israel, where one of the main topics on the agenda will be the difficult situation faced by many small Jewish communities, particularly in South America, the Baltic states and certain other countries of the former Soviet Union.

The board will discuss a plan to establish a network that would establish and maintain ties between small communities and larger communities in the nearest big cities. Bronfman said that the board would also discuss a plan to establish a regular framework for dialogue between Muslim countries and the West - an initiative the WJC has been pushing.

Bronfman spoke with Ha'aretz after receiving an unofficial briefing from senior U.S. government officials. He said that Iran's support for terror, and particularly its close ties with Hizbullah, represent a threat to the safety of such communities. Hizbullah, he noted, was behind the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Other senior WJC officials said that concern over the safety of small Jewish communities has grown in recent months. They added that Israel's budget-driven closure of its embassies in certain South American countries, such as Paraguay and Bolivia, has increased the feeling of isolation among these countries' Jewish communities.

In addition, they said, many small communities are witnessing an exodus of young people to the cities, while the rabbis, once a mainstay of community life, are aging and therefore curtailing their activities.

Hamas Leaders Meeting in Cairo

By Challiss McDonough (VOA-Cairo)

Leaders of the democratically elected Palestinian terrorist group Hamas are in Cairo for talks with Egyptian leaders and each other. The group is trying to form a government, after winning a major victory in the recent parliamentary election. But unless it renounces violence, it could have trouble funding that government, as international donors withdraw.

Hamas leaders from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Iran are in Cairo, the first meeting of Hamas leaders since the Islamic terrorist group won 74 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian legislature, nearly two weeks ago.

The Hamas leaders reportedly are trying to form a government and possibly build a coalition with the secular Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Some Hamas leaders cannot enter the Palestinian territories, so the meetings cannot take place there.

Hamas political bureau member Mohammed Nazal said he is confident that Hamas would be able to raise enough money from Arab and Muslim nations to fund the government. "First of all, we are starting the round of Arab and Islamic countries," Nazal said. "And we are discussing with our friends and our allies about this problem. But we are sure that they cannot defeat Hamas in this track -- I mean, Israelis and Americans and Europeans. Because, they think that by cutting the funds, they can defeat Hamas, but we accepted the challenge. We believe that we can get funds from some Arabs and Muslims."

Hamas leaders are also in talks with senior Egyptian officials, including intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian point man on Palestinian affairs. Last week, he told reporters that Hamas would have to renounce violence, recognize Israel, and promise to uphold the Palestinian Authority's existing agreements.

Late Sunday, Hamas senior deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk said Hamas would abide by the Authority's agreements, at least for now, but he rejected the recognition of Israel.

Hamas officials based in Damascus are seen as more radical than their colleagues from Gaza and the West Bank, who are considered more open to the idea of negotiating with Israel.

Mohammed Nazal denied that there are policy differences, but acknowledged that the meetings are working on presenting a united front. "We want to say that the Hamas inside territories and outside territories, they have one position," Nazal said. "This is why we are meeting here in Cairo ... we have one position. .... We have different opinions of course, because we are human beings. But finally we have one position."

Hamas leaders from the West Bank are not attending the meetings in the Egyptian capital, because they have no way of getting here.

Right-Wing Activist: Police Called Female Amona Protesters 'Whores'

By Ha'aretz

The first formal complaint was filed Monday with the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department against the behavior of officers during last week's evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona.

A girl who participated in the violent protests against the evacuation told Channel 2 TV that police officers made sexually suggestive remarks to her and her friends and called them "whores."

According to the girl, police suggested she and her friends enjoyed when the male officers touched them. She also said that during the forceful evacuation of the illegal outpost, where some 200 protesters and security forces were injured, she was dragged by officers in such a way that her shirt was pulled in an immodest manner.

"Police officers rubbed up against us and touched our chest and intimate body parts. They used dirty words while doing it. One policeman said: 'Come, I'll screw you'...We felt like we were being raped." (The testimony of a girl in Amona.)

The above testimony is only one of the reports received by Ynet about a week after the violent clashes during the evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Amona. Yet this is not the only report. In recent days, Ynet received numerous testimonies by young settler girls who were in Amona during the clashes.

The testimonies did not come from political sources among the settlers' leadership, but rather, from the girls themselves, as well as from educators and rabbis shocked by what they heard. Only now, following the initial shock is the truth coming out, they say.

At this time there is no way to ascertain whether the testimonies are credible and truthful. Yet the question marks hanging over the conduct of police officers in Amona are disturbing.

Avi Gisser, the rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Ofra, told Ynet he is still shocked by the accounts he heard from girls. "One girl told me: 'Police officers broke into the home where we were sitting on the floor and hugging. They broke through the door, broke windows, and saw us. There was a moment of hesitation. One of the police officers suddenly yelled: Treat them like boys! They started hitting us. We yelled at them: We want to get out of here. Please let us get out! But they responded: We'll rape you."

Rabbi Gisser stopped his account and said he found it difficult to repeat what he heard. "The police officers told them: 'We will s-c-r-e-w you," he said, refraining from uttering the word and instead spelling it out.

The rabbi says another girl told him police officers touched female bodies "not in order to arrest or move them, but to really grope intimate body parts." One girl reportedly told the rabbi: "One of the cops told a girl: 'Watch out, you're marked.' The girl then proceeded soil her pants in fear, according to the report.

Another girl who was standing on the roof of one of the structures in Amona while police officers stormed it told Ynet: "They started to push us into a corner while beating us, and aiming their blows to intimate body parts, such as the chest and below."

"After we were all right against the wall in the corner, they stood over us in a very threatening pose," she said. "It was a very difficult humiliation. One of the policemen later yelled at us: 'if you don't get off the roof I'll screw you one by one."

Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra attacked the girl's version of events and maintained she made her accusations in an effort to de-legitimize police.

Ezra said claims regarding police behavior during the Amona evacuation must be referred to the Police Investigations Department (PID) together with the name of the offending officer. He said serious complainants couldn't be satisfied with just speaking to the press.

The Justice Ministry said it expects to receive in the coming days formal complaints from right-wing activists relating to the Amona evacuation. PID decided over the weekend to open an independent investigation into the police's excessive use of force during the evacuation.

Ezra has criticized claims made by leaders of the settlers' Yesha Council and by female protesters at Amona that police officers sexually harassed women during the evacuation.

Speaking Monday during a meeting with Yesha Council leaders, Ezra said he opposes the establishment of a government commission of inquiry into police behavior. According to Ezra, Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi has ordered a probe to examine the behavior of officers. During their meeting with Ezra, Yesha leaders presented him with videotaped evidence allegedly documenting police brutality against Amona protesters.

Sources close to Ezra said settler leaders threatened to release the videotapes to the media if the Amona evacuation was not sufficiently investigated

Weizmann Scientists Discover Well-Preserved Ancient DNA in Fossil Bones. Israel Faxx News Services

Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovet recently discovered a new source of well-preserved ancient DNA in fossil bones. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fossil DNA is a potential source of information on the evolution, population dynamics, migrations, diets and diseases of animals and humans. But if it is not well preserved or becomes contaminated by modern DNA, the results are uninterpretable.

The scientists, Prof. Steve Weiner and Michal Salamon of the Institute's Structural Biology Department, working in collaboration with Profs. Baruch Arensburg, Tel Aviv University, and Noreen Tuross, Harvard University, may have found a way to overcome these problems.

It was in 1986 that Weiner first reported the existence of crystal clusters in fresh bones. Even when these bones are ground up and treated with sodium hypochlorite - a substance that removes all traces of organic matter - the clusters of crystals remain intact and the organic material embedded in them is unaffected.

Now, almost 20 years later, Weiner and Salamon have returned to these findings, reasoning that fossil bones might possess such crystal structures containing preserved ancient DNA.

After treating two modern and six fossil animal bones with the sodium hypo-chlorite, they found that DNA could be extracted from most of these crystal aggregates that is better preserved and contains longer fragments than DNA from untreated ground bone. The technique for reading the DNA worked better, as well, and the use of sodium hypochlorite reduces the possibility of modern contamination.

The crystal aggregates act as a "privileged niche in fossil bone," protecting the DNA from hostile environments and leaving it relatively undamaged over time. The team's findings suggest that the DNA in these aggregates should be preferred, whenever possible, over DNA from untreated bone.

This method holds much promise for the future analysis of ancient DNA in bones in yielding more reliable and authentic results than has previously been possible, and may help in unearthing the mysteries of our ancestral past.

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