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Outcry for Release of ITS Records Continues

By Services

In an editorial titled "A Holocaust Denial," a leading American newspaper has demanded that the International Tracing Service in Arolsen, Germany, make their vast collection of Holocaust-related data available to the public. The Washington Post accused the International Committee of the Red Cross and the German government of conspiring to prevent historians from gaining access to the world's largest Holocaust survivor archive. The editorial claims that the German government's concern about privacy is not directed toward the privacy of Holocaust survivors but to the privacy of the relatives of camp collaborators. Meanwhile, an online petition for release of the ITS record has begun. You can add your name to the more than 2,300 signatures already on the petition at

Olmert: Israel Won't Allow Iranian Nuclear Capability

By Itar-Tass and

Israel will not allow Iran to come into possession of nuclear armaments, Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published in Sunday's Washington Post.

Asked whether Tel Aviv is considering the use of military force for stopping Tehran's development of nuclear warheads, he said, Israel would not wait until Iran develops nuclear weapons that might be used against it. He said he hopes that they would not go that far to strike on Iran and Tehran would be stopped with diplomatic methods.

According to the Washington Post, Tel Aviv is urging the Bush administration to take firmer measures against Tehran. The Israeli government recently leaked information about a plan of a military operation against Iran if the United States does not do that. The plan includes bombardments, the use of special task forces and even dogs trained to bring explosives to certain facilities.

Tel Aviv has held similar operations before. In 1981 Israeli planes destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad. The newspaper said that Israelis have built a copy of the Natanza nuclear facility, which enriches uranium. Israeli officials have recently visited Washington and said that Iranian nuclear scientists have progressed much more than the United States thinks in their nuclear bomb project. In the opinion of the American intelligence, Tehran will have a nuclear warhead in approximately 10 years.

Iran now has ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, according to military experts. While Tehran denies it is trying to develop a nuclear arsenal, ballistic missile experts advising the United States say it has succeeded in reconfiguring the Shahab-3 ballistic missile to carry nuclear weapons, the London Telegraph reported.

"This is a major breakthrough for the Iranians," said a senior U.S. official, according to the London paper. "They have been trying to do this for years and now they have succeeded. It is a very disturbing development."

Recent test firings of the Shahab-3 by military experts show Iran has been able to modify the nose cone to carry a basic nuclear bomb, the experts conclude.

Israel to Boycott Envoys who Meet with Hamas-led Palestinian Government

By VOA News

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government would boycott any foreign envoys who meet with members of the new Hamas-led Palestinian government.

The Israeli decision came Sunday, during a high-level meeting called to set policy for dealing with the Palestinians. The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

The boycott, announced on Israeli radio, is similar to one Israel imposed on diplomats who met with the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat before his death in 2004. Officials said the current ban does not apply to Fatah party leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called an emergency meeting of his Hamas-led cabinet to discuss Israeli air and artillery strikes that have killed 15 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since Friday.

Israel said its actions are aimed at stopping Palestinian terrorists from firing rockets into southern Israel. The latest Palestinian casualty was a police officer killed early Sunday by Israeli shelling aimed at a base near the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. At least five other Palestinians were wounded.

In a separate development, the Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam quoted the Palestinian finance minister as saying his government's financial crisis is worse than anticipated. Omar Abdel Razak said he does not know when the Palestinian Authority would be able to pay the salaries of 140,000 government workers.

The United States and the European Union have cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian government, saying Hamas must renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist. Israel had already frozen the monthly transfer of millions of dollars in tax revenues that it collects for the Palestinians.

AIPAC Case Draws Growing Attention

By Secrecy News (Commentary)

The prosecution of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for mishandling classified information is attracting growing public attention and concern as the anomalous character of the case becomes increasingly clear.

It bears repeating that the two defendants, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, are not accused of being agents of Israel or any other foreign power. The government has stipulated that they are not. Although they are charged under "the Espionage Act," this is not an espionage case.

What makes the whole affair more peculiar still is that the defendants did not even request the disclosure of the information they are accused of mishandling.

"Nowhere is it alleged that Dr. Rosen or Mr. Weissman stole, paid for or even solicited the information that they allegedly received," the defense noted in a January 19 motion to dismiss.

A theory of the law that would penalize such informal transactions between citizens and government officials is obviously susceptible to extreme abuse.

Although Judge T.S. Ellis III questioned the government sharply at a March 24 hearing, there is no reason to deduce that he will dismiss the case. Such questioning typically serves to clarify the basis for prosecution and is, as often as not, a prelude to a ruling in favor of the government.

The jury trial in the case that was originally set for April 25 has been rescheduled for May 23, according to a notice in the case docket.

Saudi Professor: "America Will Be Dissipated to Nothing"


A similar fate awaits Israel, a "false state" which "must be demolished," according to Dr. Al-Naggar, a professor of geology at King Fahd University., who spent a sabbatical at UCLA.

Dr. Zaghloul Al-Naggar, said in a speech aired on Saudi TV on April 2 that "America will not remain the sole world power forever... [it will be] dissipated to nothing." Al-Naggar is a member of a number of prestigious American scientific organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and edits a scientific journal based in Ithaca, New York.

The Egyptian born professor has published extensively on geology, Islam, nature, scientific theory, and the Koran. According to his Arabic language website, he has also published a book claiming that that 9/11 attacks were a U.S.-Zionist conspiracy.

He said "The Jews in the region have been a destructive force. They have been killing, shooting, and looting every day. They have been demolishing mosques, hospitals, schools, churches every day. They have been destroying cultivated land, destroying homes on its inhabitants, under the strong assumption that they were given this land by a false promise."

A Director is Born


Is Steven Spielberg walking in Donald Trump's reality TV footsteps? Turns out that the famous movie director has also been swept up by the current trend of reality TV, and has announced the creation of a reality show to find Hollywood's next great director.

Spielberg's new show will be based on Trump's "The Apprentice" show. Sixteen contestants will be chosen from interviews to take place around the United States.

Finalists will be flown to Hollywood, where they will be divided into small groups, and each week will be required to produce a short film from a different genre (comedy, drama, action, etc.), with one person acting as director. They will also have use of professional script writers, support staff and actors, possibly including some famous ones.

In an episode to be called "premier", each group's movie will be shown to a live audience and panel of judges. At the same time, TV viewers will be able to vote for best picture.

If the movie is judged to be a failure, the director will be voted out of the competition, and the rest of the team will continue to work on the next movie, with another candidate directing. The last one standing will win the competition and will win a movie contract and personal meeting with Spielberg.

A Holocaust Denial
The Washington Post (Editorial)

Sixty-one years ago this spring, the Allies liberated the German concentration camps. Sixty-one years is a long time -- so long that few European leaders have personal experience of the war. Why, then, are the German government and the International Red Cross still conspiring to prevent historians from gaining access to the world's largest Holocaust survivors' archive?

There is no easy answer to this question, particularly since both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Germany flatly deny they are doing so. Officially known as the International Tracing Service, the archive contains comprehensive documentation from Dachau and Buchenwald, as well as prisoner lists and records from other concentration camps, slave labor camps, displaced-person camps and ghettos.

These records, thought to contain more than 17 million names, were deposited in Bad Arolsen, Germany, by the Allied powers after the war and have been managed since 1955 by an international treaty with 11 signatories. The treaty gave the ICRC management of the archive on behalf of survivors and required the German government to fund its operations.

But in recent years it has become clear that this system no longer works. The backlog of victims waiting for information about their lives is now in the hundreds of thousands; evidence that archivists hold back documents is overwhelming; survivors' groups in Germany and elsewhere are protesting; and historians are demanding better access.

In theory, the 11 countries have now agreed to open the archives to historians. But in practice, the longtime director of the archive, Charles Biedermann -- a Swiss employee of the ICRC -- together with the German government has thwarted efforts by the United States, the Netherlands, France and others to make the documents more accessible.

Mr. Biedermann, while claiming neutrality, has written letters to German officials in an effort to influence committee deliberations and has recently issued a statement calling wider distribution of the documents "neither morally nor legally justifiable." In conversation, he lists conditions -- his conditions -- that researchers would have to meet before the International Tracing Service could "agree" to open itself up to historians.

The German interior ministry, meanwhile, joins him in pointing out multiple legal issues that prevent them from making the archives more accessible, ranging from the privacy of relatives of camp collaborators to questions about archivists' liability -- despite the fact that similar archives in Belgium and Israel have posed no special problems. Germany, along with Italy, also opposed the creation of a scholarly group to assist the 11-nation commission, which meets once a year and is mostly composed of diplomats without special knowledge of the Holocaust or of archives in general. Perhaps, some suspect, the Germans and the Italians fear a flood of new compensation claims. Or perhaps archive employees simply fear for their jobs.

Both the Germans and the ICRC also claim that any change in the archives' regime requires unanimous approval of all the treaty signatories -- which is not clearly the case and is, of course, impossible, because the Germans object. Yet these are not, and were never intended to be, Germany's archives to control. Clearly it is time to raise this issue's significance, to involve diplomats at a higher level, and to reach a compromise. If possible, the archives should be made completely accessible, with no unusual restrictions, in Bad Arolsen.

If legal issues make it impossible to open the archive in Germany, then yes, the documents should be copied and placed in appropriate archives abroad, where they could be managed under the rules of other countries. Sixty-one years later, survivors, historians and the rest of the world have a right to know what happened.

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