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Israel Vows to Act Against Iran

By VOA News, &

Israel said Wednesday that it would be forced to defend itself against Iran, if the United Nations Security Council failed to take action to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In an interview with Reuters, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was asked whether Israel is ready to use military force, if the Security Council does not stop what Israel believes is a covert Iranian weapons program. Mofaz replied, "We have to defend ourselves."

He said during a visit to Germany that "the State of Israel has many drawers, containing all it needs in order to defend our citizens," and that any military action would be based on Israel's right to provide security to its people. In 1981, Israel bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of Israel since taking office last year. He also has rejected the vast body of historical documentation of the Holocaust as myth.

Mofaz, who met with German officials, including the defense and foreign ministers, added that "the State of Israel and the Jewish people will never again face a situation in which our existence is being threatened. We do not intend on turning a blind eye to any threat that we may face, and we will do everything so that the threat is not realized."

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said after his meeting with Mofaz in Berlin that Germany explicitly supports Israel. "I too see the danger in an Iranian nuclear bomb. We are allies on this issue. I never imagined that a state leader would stand up and deny the Holocaust or declare once and again that the State of Israel must be destroyed and has no right to exist," the German minister added.

In a related story, the Jewish fringe organization Neturei Karta has sent several representatives to Iran this week, in order to show the group's support for Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his recent calls to "wipe Israel off the map".

In a statement to Iran's state-run radio, the delegates of the several-hundred-strong organization called for "the disintegration of the Zionist regime." One of the British Neturei Karta leaders was reported on Iranian television to have said that "Zionists are involved in almost every major crime worldwide."

In another recent action in support of anti-Semitic leaders, Neturei Karta issued a congratulatory open letter to Ismail Haniyeh, appointed as Hamas leader of the Palestinian Authority last month. As reported by, Neturei Karta's leader received "unofficial" payments from the PA, personally authorized by the late PLO leader Yasir Arafat.

Leaders of all strictly Orthodox Jewish religious groups in - including those who in principle reject a secular State of Israel - have excommunicated members of Neturei Karta.

Abbas Hoping For an Olmert Victory

By & Israel Faxx News Services

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told an Italian newspaper that he is rooting for Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party to win in the coming Israeli elections. Abbas, the head of Yasir Arafat's Fatah terrorist group, remains the president of Gaza and several enclaves within Judea and Samaria handed over by Israel to PA control.

The Italian newspaper Carriera Della Sera printed the interview with the PA leader, who said that he hopes that Olmert will form the next coalition government in Israel's Knesset.

Abbas said his preference for Olmert stemmed from their personal acquaintance, which makes him comfortable to work with Olmert through further political steps. Abbas added, though, that he would "honor every decision made by the Israeli public" pertaining to the elections.

Recent reports have alleged that the U.S. demanded of Abbas to delay the formation of a Hamas-led PA government so as not to negatively impact the electoral support of Ariel Sharon's Kadima party, led by Olmert since Sharon's massive stroke.

The Likud party issued a statement in response to the report. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) understands that with Olmert he will receive radical withdrawals without anything in return and with no Palestinian commitments…Even Abu Mazen understands that Kadima is left of Labor."

"Abu Mazen's declaration is a Certificate of Inadequacy for Kadima and Olmert," said Likud faction head Gideon Sa'ar. "Abu Mazen is concerned with Palestinian interests, which desire the rise of the left, led by Olmert, who plan gratuitous withdrawals from Judea and Samaria."

However, the Associated Press reported that Abbas has disavowed that Italian a newspaper report. An Abbas senior aide said the newspaper misquoted Abbas when it had him saying in an interview: "I hope that Olmert wins ... I know him well, and I believe that I could work with him in a productive way."

"He (Abbas) said he doesn't interfere in Israeli elections," the Abbas aide told Reuters about the Carriera interview. "As polls suggest Kadima would win, he would deal with him (Olmert) as he knows him well," the aide said on condition of anonymity.

Responding to Abbas' alleged remarks, the Likud said earlier Wednesday, "Even Abu Mazen, who called on Hamas to form the next Palestinian government, understands that Olmert will make more concessions without any Palestinian commitments. Even Abu Mazen understands that Kadima is further left than Labor."

Conservative Movement Postpones Decision on Same-Sex Marriages

By Ha'aretz

The Conservative movement decided Wednesday to postpone until next December making a final decision on recognizing gay marriage and allowing homosexuals to be ordained as rabbis, a move that is threatening to split the movement.

The movement's Halachic (Jewish law) committee discussed the initiative Wednesday but it was decided to delay making a final decision. One of the Conservative movement's leading rabbis in New York, who requested to remain anonymous, told Ha'aretz on Monday that the initiative's approval would cause broad resistance among the movement's rabbis and congregation members, and that many would leave the movement.

Rabbi Joel Myers, chairman of the movement's "Rabbinical Parliament" told Ha'aretz that reports of a possible split were exaggerated. "Recognition of gay marriages and of homosexual rabbis creates tensions due to the conflict between the principles of Jewish law and the values of our time. However, this issue is not central or critical to our movement."

The movement's Halachic committee is also expected to overturn the decision made by the same committee in 1992, which banned gay marriage and prevented homosexuals from entering the movement's rabbinate.

Allowing for gay marriage and for homosexual rabbis represents far-reaching changes in the movement's principles. The initiative's approval would bring the Conservative movement ideologically closer to the Reform movement and would likely cause a rupture between the Conservative and Orthodox movements.

The Conservative movement is the only movement among the four Jewish movements active in the United States that has lost a significant amount of members in the last number of years. Over the last decade, the percentage of Jews who identify with the Conservative movement has dropped from 43 percent to 33 percent, while the Reform movement has grown from 35 percent to 39 percent and the Orthodox movement has grown from 16 percent to 21 percent.

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