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U.S./Canada Shabbat Program Draws Thousands


The 10th annual "Shabbat Across America" program Friday night and Saturday will draw more than 65,000 people, according to Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, director of the National Jewish Outreach Program. He said thousands of unaffiliated Jews have been brought back to synagogues through the program. The event begins Friday evening with traditional prayers for beginners, a Sabbath meal, singing and discussion. "We want to get people who never experienced Shabbat literally to come in off the streets," Buchwald said.

Dubai Reaffirms Policy of Refusing Entry to Israelis


Despite heavy criticism in Washington over its continued enforcement of the anti-Israel Arab boycott, the Government of Dubai has reiterated its refusal to allow Israeli citizens to enter Dubai.

"We don't give a permit for Israeli passport holders to enter the country," Mohammed Ali al-Mohari of the Entry Permits Section of Dubai's Interior Ministry said in a telephone interview. "It's a rule."

Asked to explain the reason behind the policy, Al-Mohari laughed and said that he thinks this is the case for most Arab countries. "This is how it is in most of the Arabic lands, I am sure," he said.

He added, though, that the holder of a foreign passport bearing stamps which indicated that he or she had once visited the Jewish state would not encounter any problems entering the country.

Dubai's refusal to allow Israelis to set foot on its soil also features prominently on a government-run website belonging to the Gulf Arab nation. On the website of the Dubai Government's Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, under the section titled "Visa Regulations," it states that, "Nationals of `Israel' may not enter the U.A.E.," a reference to the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a constituent state.

The reaffirmation of Dubai's policy of barring entry to Israelis came just one day after Democratic and Republican legislators in Washington blasted the country's ongoing participation in the Arab boycott of the Jewish state.

Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer both lambasted Dubai for its policy on Israel, as did former presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, who said, "This boycott not only violates at least the spirit of U.S. law, it is inconsistent with everything we believe in as Americans."

They spoke at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee, which convened Monday to discuss President Bush's controversial plan to sell six American ports to Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the Government of Dubai.

At the hearing, Edward H. Bilkey, the chief operating officer of Dubai Ports World, was grilled by senators after confirming that his firm's parent holding company does enforce the Arab boycott. He insisted, however, that this would not have any impact on the administration of American ports were the proposed acquisition to be completed.

In response, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement calling on the Bush Administration to drop the ports deal. "That Dubai Ports World is owned by the emirate of Dubai, which actively supports the Arab economic boycott of Israel, should be grounds enough to torpedo any deal with the United States on port operations," said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman. "Dubai should not benefit from America's open trade policies unless it discontinues its anti-Israel activity."

Israeli Foreign Minister Warns Europeans of Hamas Threat

By Michael Drudge (VOA-London)

The Israeli foreign minister has been meeting European leaders to warn against funding a Palestinian government led by Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has made stops in Vienna, Paris and London to deliver her warning against Hamas. She told a news conference in London that January's victory by Hamas in the Palestinian elections has fueled aspirations of Islamic terrorists throughout the Middle East region.

"I believe that there is a connection between what we see after the elections in the Palestinian Authority, in Iran, Hizbullah in Lebanon and others," she said. "And I believe this is a threat not only to Israel, but to the international community."

She ruled out any dealings with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas representatives, unless the group meets three conditions demanded by the international community. "It is clear, to accept the existence of Israel, to renounce violence and terrorism and to accept former agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. This is not negotiable."

Livni said a way needs to be found to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians through organizations not controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

The European Union this week agreed to provide more than $140 million to the Palestinians before Hamas takes office. The EU money would be channeled through U.N. agencies and the World Bank.

In London, Livni held talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government has emphasized that while Hamas' electoral victory is legitimate, the group must give up violence and recognize Israel if it wants international support.

Tzfat: Two Women Fight Over Body Lotion


Police officers from the Tzfat police department who were called on Thursday to a drugstore witnessed in astonishment two women in their 30s throwing items at each other and cursing each other. The reason: a bizarre fight over their favorite, out-of-stock body lotion

While both were clutching the last tube. The officers arrested the two for questioning and released them on bail.

And Thursday morning, the police officers were called again, this time to a synagogue. They found two beaten worshipers, one in his nose and mouth, and the other in his eye.

In an inquiry into the incident the police found that the two men in their 40s argued over the right to open the Holy Ark during the Morning Prayer. After receiving treatment, the two were questioned at the police station.

Tzfat Police Chief Amos Shimoni said, "We're dealing with two serious cases. In the first case it was decided to release the two women after they testified on the matter. In the case of the two worshipers, both of whom still bear marks on their faces, we decided to keep them in custody for questioning and later they will be brought in front of judge at the Tzfat Magistrates Court".

"We can not ignore the fact that violence in Israeli society is on the rise in the past few years and we, the police, have to contend with even more severe cases. Luckily, the two incidents ended with light wounds, but we will be strict in cases of public disturbance, not to mention disturbance of holy places like a synagogue", he added.

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