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U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Pollard Appeal


The United States Supreme Court refused a petition filed by attorneys on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, seeking access to classified documents in the hope of obtaining a presidential pardon in the future. Pollard attorney Elliot Lauer stated the Department of Justice should not be granted autonomous power to decide which documents are kept from the public, adding that the Department of Justice is not an arm of the judiciary and not an impartial body. Pollard, a former U.S. Naval analyst, is serving a life sentence for providing classified information to Israel. He was sentenced in 1987.

Israel Confirms Deadly H5N1 Strain of Bird Flu

By VOA News & Ha'aretz

Israeli health officials said Monday that tests show the bird flu virus that infected poultry in the southern part of the country is of the lethal H5N1 strain.

Israel has been culling thousands of birds to contain the virus, after officials said last week that more than 10,000 turkeys died from bird flu on two farms in the south. Officials said more culling would be carried out within a three-kilometer radius of the infected birds, although they said the situation was already under control.

Meanwhile, Egypt reported a second suspected human case of bird flu. Egypt's health ministry said Sunday a young man hospitalized since Thursday is suffering symptoms of the disease. It said he kept a farm, north of Cairo, where a number of chickens died last week. The report followed the death Friday in Egypt of a woman believed to have contracted the H5N1 strain of the virus.

Bird flu has spread across parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, killing about 100 people since 2003. Health officials have warned it could mutate into a virus that can be easily transmitted between humans and create a global pandemic.

The deadly H5N1 strain probably entered Israel from Egypt, sources at the Agriculture Ministry said Monday. This conclusion - which ministry officials are currently willing to offer only off the record - is based on the fact that the virus was first discovered in southern communities (Holit and Amioz) located near the Egyptian border.

According to the officials, the disease apparently came from Sinai via people who visited Egypt and carried the virus back with them on their shoes, clothing or personal effects. At least one such person was then apparently employed by the turkey farms where the virus first erupted - possibly as a supplier of food or equipment, or as a driver who transported the birds to the slaughterhouse - and he transmitted the virus to these birds.

Another possibility, though this is considered less likely, is that the virus was carried from Sinai by camels, donkeys or horses ridden by Bedouin smugglers, and that these animals then transmitted the disease to a Bedouin employed at one of the affected turkey farms. A third possibility - though this, too, is considered unlikely - is that the virus was carried by tourists from Turkey, or by Israelis who had visited affected areas of Turkey.

The most unlikely possibility, according to the ministry sources, is that the virus was carried by migrating birds. Had wild birds been the source, they explained, it was unlikely that the virus would have broken out at more than one farm or two at the most, at the same time, and it is also unlikely that all the affected farms would have been raising turkeys rather than some other kind of poultry. The fact that the disease broke out at several farms, all of them turkey-breeding facilities, appears to indicate that the source was probably a human being, or vehicle, that had visited all of these farms over the past two weeks.

The officials said that it might even be possible to locate the person or vehicle in question, as the incubation period for bird flu was three to five days. Since the disease was first diagnosed in the middle of last week, the initial infection probably took place either early last week or the preceding weekend. However, the exact source of the disease may never be determined, the sources added.

Suspicions that the virus had reached Kibbutz Nir Oz and Moshav Amei Oz, both in southern Israel, were raised when dead turkeys were found at both locations, and the presence of the virus was confirmed Monday.

"We are talking about infections in six flocks in four locations when there are thousands of flocks in Israel in a vast number of locations," Shimon Pokomonsky, a senior veterinarian at the Agriculture Ministry, told reporters.

Turkeys from Amei Oz had been sent Sunday for slaughter, the media reported, and Agriculture Ministry officials were trying to locate and stop the trucks carrying them.

Representatives from Israel met on Monday afternoon with officials from the Palestinian Authority's Agriculture Ministry at Erez crossing to confirm that the avian flu had not reached the Gaza Strip.

According to Health Ministry figures, emergency warehouses have a stockpile of six million Tamiflu pills manufactured by Roche Pharmaceuticals, which are supposed to be enough, should the need arise, to treat 7 percent of the country's population. (This medication is administered at a dose of one pill per day for a week to 10 days.)

Tamiflu is administered as a preventive measure against the disease, and is the only substance that has been proved to be somewhat effective against avian flu in humans. According to the Health Ministry, another shipment of five million pills is due to arrive in Israel by the end of May, along with a syrup version for children.

A Gaza Muslim preacher said during weekend mosque services that bird-flu virus found in Israel was sent by Allah to punish the Jews for being the `worst of humanity' and is the beginning of the outbreak of other diseases meant to destroy the Jewish state within the next 20 years."

Sheikh Abu Muhammed, an imam at the popular Al-Tadwa mosque in Beit Lahia north of Gaza City, went on to ask Muslims at his Friday night sermon to pray for the sexual organs of Jews to "dry out" so they cannot reproduce, a Palestinian at the service told WorldNet Daily

In his mosque speech, Sheikh Muhammed reportedly went on to explain Allah decided to "hit the Israelis with birds," since birds are mentioned in the Quran as a tool used to defeat infidels.

He asked for congregants to "pray for Allah to dry out the sexual organs of the Jews with a disease so they won't be able to reproduce anymore." Muhammed made his comments in spite of predictions that the virus found in Israel may surface through migrating fowl in the nearby Palestinian territories.

Olmert Says He will Change Borders, Keep Lands in West Bank

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert said he wants to dramatically change Israel's borders in coming years. Olmert's comments came as opinion polls show him a heavy favorite to win Israel's general election next week.

In an interview with Israel's Army Radio, Olmert said Israel's borders with the West Bank would be dramatically different from what they are today. He said he would seek the views of different groups of Israelis when it comes to drawing Israel's borders and that he wants all Israelis involved in the decision.

Last week, Olmert said he would keep three large settlement blocs in the West Bank as Israeli territory as part of his plan to draw Israel's final border with the Palestinians by the year 2010. He also said that he would keep the Jordan Valley as a security buffer, but would abandon a number of isolated settlements in the West Bank.

Palestinians have denounced the plan, saying it violates international law and would doom any possibility of creating a viable independent Palestinian state. U.S. officials said they believe Israel would hold onto some settlement blocs in any agreement with the Palestinians, but that Israel should halt all further settlement construction in the West Bank, including construction that links the large settlement blocs that Olmert wants to keep with Israeli territory.

Knesset Speaker (Likud) Reuven Rivlin in a Monday night address to a Jerusalem election event warned that Olmert and Shimon Peres would divide Jerusalem. "Peres did not succeed in beating [Labor Party leader] Amir Peretz so he moved to a party where he does not have to be elected," stated Rivlin.

Bias Attacks in France Fuel Concern About Blacks

By Ha'aretz & The Forward

A string of anti-Semitic incidents in the aftermath of the torture and murder of a young Jewish vendor is fueling concerns that anti-Jewish feelings are spreading in France's black community

The incidents - three physical attacks allegedly committed by blacks of Muslim descent - occurred in recent days, following the extradition from Ivory Coast of Youssouf Fofana, the alleged leader of the gang that kidnapped and murdered 21-year-old Ilan Halimi.

The alleged involvement of blacks has added a new twist to the wave of anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, which mostly were the work of young Muslims of North African descent responding to the Palestinian intifada.

A judge charged Fofana for the premeditated murder of Halimi, with the aggravated circumstance that the crime was motivated by race, after evidence surfaced that the gang had targeted Halimi because they believed that Jews are rich and the community would pay a ransom. Fofana has told investigators that the plot was not motivated by ethnicity, but by money, and has denied that he killed Halimi.

"This affair has transformed Fofana into a hero in the eyes of quite a few people," said Sammy Ghozlan, president of the National Office of Vigilance Against anti-Semitism, a former police chief who has been criticized by some Jewish groups for what they say is his tendency to exaggerate the anti-Semitic threat. "The attitude of [black] people has changed in recent years."

Patrick Klugman, vice-president of the anti-racism group SOS Racism, said that recent events "have reawakened the fears of Jews after a period of calm, and is creating tensions with the black community and this is very worrying."

The attacks and their aftermath have prompted some virulent exchanges on the Internet. An e-mail allegedly sent by a small group of black radicals known as Tribu K.A to several Jewish and antiracist organizations warned against any effort to deny Fofana a fair trial. "We will take special care of your rabbis' sidelocks," the group threatened, adding, "Let the brother be judged fairly or you will pay."

Black-Jewish tensions were virtually unheard of in France a few years ago, but they began to surface after well-known comedian Dieudonne Mbala Mbala started accusing Jews of controlling the world and enslaving blacks, prompting a flurry of defamation lawsuits by Jewish organizations.

Dieudonne, who is of African origin and made his name a decade ago while partnering with a Jewish humorist, has made a series of statements about Jews and Israel in his shows and in the media. In addition to stating that Jews played a "central role" in the 15th-century slave trade, he most famously appeared in December 2003 on a popular French television program dressed as an Orthodox Jew and performed the Nazi salute while shouting "IsraHeil." All the defamation charges against him have so far been rejected by the courts.

Dieudonne is also considering running in next year's presidential elections on a far-left platform. Late last month, Julien Dray, the spokesman for the main opposition socialist party, blamed the Halimi murder on the "Dieudonne effect." In response, the comic issued a statement calling Dray the "Zionist militant" and demanding that he apologize.

Last weekend, three anti-Semitic attacks took place in the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles, where 20 percent of the city's 58,000 inhabitants are Jewish.

On March 3, a local rabbi's 17-year-old son was attacked by two black men near their synagogue, suffering a broken nose. That same afternoon, an 18-year-old man was attacked by a group of five men, who insulted him and stole his cell phone. Four of them were black and the fifth was of Arab origin, according to the police. The next night, a 28-year-old wearing a yarmulke was verbally and physically abused by four men and suffered a dislocated shoulder, according to police sources. The culprits, four underage black men, have been arrested and charged.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy announced at a meeting with families and local officials that police reinforcements would be deployed in Sarcelles, which is located in an area where several days of rioting by young Arab immigrants took place a few months ago.

Other anti-Semitic incidents have occurred in the country's second-largest city, Lyons, and the nearby suburb of Villeurbanne, where a sizable Jewish community lives.

According to a poll taken by the weekly news magazine Paris-Match after the Halimi murder but before the recent incidents, nearly two-thirds of the French believe anti-Semitism is currently rising.

An online petition addressed to the U.S. Congress and calling for Jews to seek asylum in the United States has gathered more than 5,200 signatures.

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