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Nazi Archives Secretly Known to Yad Vashem


Germany has announced it will open its archives at Bad Arolsen, subject to approval of an 11-member commission, but the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute revealed Thursday it secretly has received most of the archives over the past 48 years. It said it welcomed the proposal to open the archives to the public. Copies of 20 million pages of documentation were made available to Yad Vashem, without public announcements. Yad Vashem's archives include 68 million pages, including the Arolsen copies, which document testimonies of survivors and include lists of names and personal papers.

Israel Warns of Hamas, Iran Links

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations this week linked the Hamas-led Palestinian government to Iran and to what he called a new "axis of terror." His words are a sign of stepped up rhetoric and pressure on the Palestinian government, especially after last Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

Hamas has been under pressure since its surprise election victory in late January. Israel and the United States said from the outset they would not deal with an organization they have designated as a terrorist group. Europe soon followed suit, and all three cut off any direct flow of funds to the Palestinian Authority once Hamas took over.

The hope was that this external pressure would make Hamas moderate its position, renounce violence, recognize Israel and support the peace process. But Hamas has remained defiant, and even came out in defense of a young bomber linked with the terrorist group, Islamic Jihad, who blew himself up in central Tel Aviv. Instead of condemning the bombing, Hamas leaders said it was an act of self defense caused by Israel's occupation.

That infuriated Israel, and its ambassador, Dan Gillerman, issued a warning to his colleagues at the United Nations. "A dark cloud is looming over our region, and it is metastasizing as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria and the newly-elected government of the Palestinian Authority."

Gillerman likened these statements and actions to "a declaration of war." He warned that, if the world sits still and does nothing to root out this danger, it will threaten everyone. "As this axis of evil and terror sows the seeds of the first world war of the 21st century."

Senior Palestinian politician and peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat told VOA, the Palestinians are not part of any axis. "We [the Palestinians] are a people under occupation, under Israeli occupation. We are a people, who are seeking to have peace with Israel, through negotiations, and we hope that the Israelis will stop scoring points and finger-pointing, because we are not part of any axis in the region, whether Iran or anybody else."

Some critics said that Hamas leaders have brought increasing hardships and isolation for Palestinians by sticking to their hard line, and visiting places like Iran, whose president has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, and who continues to defy the West over his country's development of nuclear technology.

Hamas officials have been touring the region to seek funding to bail their government out of the financial crisis, caused by the aid cuts from Europe and America. But, there is also something else at play, said Palestinian political analyst Mehdi Abdel Hadi, of the Passia research center in Jerusalem.

"They [Hamas] see this opportunity of awakening of the sleeping horses in the region - i.e., the Islamic movement in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Palestine is no exception," he said. Hadi sees in Gillerman's words a reaction that goes back to the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I think it's part of the Islam-ophobia that goes back to the 11th of September. The idea has been to link the Iranians, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as Hamas in Palestine," he explained, adding that it is a mistake to automatically link Islamic groups to terrorism. He said their rise is part of democratic change in the region, and he said their militancy could be seen as a transitional phase.

Not everyone agrees. Critics said Islamic groups are using the ballot box to come to power, and to enforce their own vision on the rest of the people.

Many Palestinians fear that, as Hamas maintains its hard line, it risks financial and possibly political collapse, along with increasing chaos.

Erekat said Hamas should recognize previous peace accords with Israel, and should agree to President Mahmoud Abbas' plan for future negotiations. When asked if there is any indication of that happening, he said only, "I hope so."

Hamas Legislators to Appeal Loss of Jerusalem Residency

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Slapped with Israeli sanctions, a group of legislators from the Islamic terrorist group and a Cabinet minister will appeal to Israel's Supreme Court against Israel's decision to revoke their Jerusalem residency rights.

Israel decided on the move after Hamas described a Palestinian suicide bombing that killed nine civilians this week in Tel Aviv as an act of "legitimate resistance." Under the decision, the Hamas legislators will be stripped of their Israeli identity cards, which grant them permanent residency in Jerusalem, freedom of movement in Israel and social security benefits.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said it is a legal response to involvement in terrorism. "If you look at international law, if someone is not a citizen, if someone is a resident, and a resident is acting against the interests of the host country, if someone is not doing anything to stop suicide bombings of innocent civilians, if someone is justifying the murder of innocent civilians in suicide bombings, you have every right to renounce their residency."

Three Israeli-Arab members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, rushed to the aid of the Hamas legislators, and held a controversial solidarity meeting with them.

Israeli-Arab legislator Taleb A-Sanaa told Israel Radio that it is illegal for the government to remove Palestinian residents from their land and homes in Jerusalem.

Jewish Knesset members were furious because under the law, it is forbidden for Israelis to meet with Hamas. Hawkish Israeli parliamentarian Effi Eitam said that even in a democracy, it is absurd for Knesset members to be meeting with the leaders of a terrorist group like Hamas that seeks Israel's destruction. Some politicians said the Arab legislators should be charged with treason.

Shin Bet Recruits to Enter Fast-Track Undergraduate Program

By Ha'aretz

Young people who join the Shin Bet secret service and specialize in Arabic and Middle East studies will be able to receive a bachelor's degree in 16 months.

The Shin Bet and Hebrew University in Jerusalem recently agreed to enable new recruits to the Secret Service, especially field coordinators and investigators, to receive academic points for their Arabic language studies in the service's course.

The studies last nine months, in boarding school conditions, followed by seven months in the Hebrew University.

Until now the Shin Bet preferred enlisting people who already held at least a bachelor's degree. Recently, it reexamined the possibility of recruiting former soldiers who just completed their military service and who are familiar with Palestinian issues. Following the reevaluation, the Shin Bet changed its policy and formulated the fast bachelor's degree course.

The Shin Bet hopes it will serve as an incentive to people seeking both public sector security jobs and academic studies. The academic degree is intended as a certain compensation for the recruits' beginning wages. Senior Shin Bet figures believe these wages should be increased to attract quality recruits.

The Shin Bet's academic course indirectly competes with academic plans offered by the IDF. The students of the Ground Forces Tactical Command College at Glilot, for example, receive a bachelor's degree from Tel Aviv University after two years and graduates of the Flying Academy in Hatzerim receive a bachelor's degree from Ben Gurion University.

New Israeli Wallet-Sized Flash Drive


An Israeli company has developed a credit-card sized USB drive that can fit inside a wallet. reported that the new flat drives are designed to be even easier to use and keep than "those little flash memory drives that plug into any USB port and let you carry your files around on your keychain [which are] so small they can often slip through your fingers."

"I think the card shape is the future," Walletex CEO Alon Atsmon told ISRAEL21c. "If it is much smaller it gets lost. The most convenient place is in your wallet."

The new drive is only 1.9 millimeters thick, approximately equivalent to two credit cards on top of each other, and weighs just 0.4 ounce. The drive is waterproof and heat tolerant. Wallet Flash, which has a double sided USB connector at one end, and is available in different memory capacities, from 64 Mb up to 2Gb, costing from $25 to $120. It can be purchased through Walletex and other retailers online.

Ancient Ostrich Eggs Discovered


Was the Sharon region, just north of Tel Aviv, an African-type savannah with underbrush several million years ago? The answer is perhaps to be found in tests being conducted on four ancient ostrich eggs discovered this week near Kibbutz Yakum.

The eggs were found by chance by Yonatan Baruch, a farmer who was spraying the potato fields of Kibbutz Shefayim and Kibbutz Yakum. Seeing what looked like four stones west of the Coastal Road near Kibbutz Yakum, Baruch got off his tractor and discovered that the objects actually were more like large eggs. He then told Alon Potash, a farmer from Kibbutz Shefayim, of his discovery.

According to Potash, "When I saw the objects I realized that we had something out of the ordinary on our hands. The eggs were whole and lighter than stones. We shook two of them and they seemed totally empty. One of the other eggs sounded like it had powder in it, and the fourth egg had something liquid in it. They were light brown and had a scale-like substance on them that had apparently built up over the years."

The heavy rains that fell in the area two weeks ago created a one-meter channel in the ground that apparently uncovered the eggs and swept them to the edge of the field, where they were eventually found lying in the eroded earth.

Potash brought the eggs to an employee of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, who gave them to Authority inspectors.

Dr. Yariv Melihi, central region ecologist for the Authority, gave the eggs an initial examination. Melihi noted that "they were whole. In the past ostrich egg fragments had been found near the Herzliya marina, and they were dated at 5,500 years old. But we thought that they were fragments that had been used as eating utensils. The eggs found now were whole, not fragments, which could indicate that ostriches grew in the Sharon region. If this is true, since we know that ostriches live chiefly in the African savanna, where the growth is low, perhaps the Sharon region, too, once looked this way."

The eggs were sent to the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret for examination. Lab tests are also being conducted, and after the Passover holiday the eggs will be X-rayed and undergo additional tests to assess when they were laid. "On the face of it, it appears that these eggs are from thousands of years ago," Melihi said.

Eilat Hotels: Tourists Pay More


An Israeli who asked to make a hotel reservation in Eilat for himself and a French couple found that his tourist friends have to pay 80 percent more for the same room.

He asked for an explanation and was told "they are all on holiday." "Tourists from France came to me over the holiday and wanted to go to Eilat and stay at the Dan Panorama Hotel for a couple of days," Philip Jrozilansky said.

"I called reservations at Dan Hotels and asked how much a room would cost. They said a bed and breakfast room for a couple costs NIS 1,980 (&420) for two nights. I told them a couple of tourists from France will be joining us and they directed us to an operator that deals with tourists. They offered us the same room for USD 367 for a total of NIS 3,532 for two nights, a gap of 78 percent.

"I tried to check if a mistake was made. They transferred me from one person to another and said that's the price. I am a Zionist Jew. I immigrated to Israel from Belgium. I wanted my guests to see Eilat. How do they want to have tourists in this country?"

After this conversation, Yedioth Ahronoth checked prices at other hotels. At the Hilton Eilat Queen of Sheba Hotel a room for two nights for an Israeli couple costs NIS 1,900 ($413). The same room costs NIS 2,668 ($580) for tourists. a gap of 40 percent.

The Sheraton Harrods Eilat Hotel a room for two nights costs NIS 2,680 ($580) for Israelis and NIS 3,036 ($660) for tourists and they told us that "in principle a room for tourists is more expensive." The difference: 13 percent.

At the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv we were given a price of NIS 1,500 ($330) for Israelis and NIS 1,794 ($390) for tourists, a 20 percent gap.

Some hotels gave us wise tips saying: "Make the reservation under your name for the whole group and pay using an Israeli credit card, so you can circumvent the gap in prices."

Isrotel Hotels said its prices are the same for tourists and Israelis. Isrotel CEO Rafi Sadeh said his company unified its price list after complaints over the price gap. Eli Ganon, CEO of Sheraton Israel, admitted there is a problem in prices. "We charge tourists in Israel the same prices their agents do abroad," he said.

David Fattal, chairman of the Union of Eilat Hotels and CEO of Fattal hotel chain, said: "Tourist prices are set under long-term agreements with agents abroad, and therefore we charge them even in Israel prices they would have paid abroad. Certainly it is possible to consider charging tourists in Israel the same prices Israelis pay."

The Union of Hotel said it will comment only after undertaking a thorough investigation into the issue. The Ministry of Tourism said it views with severity gaps in prices. The Ministry said hotels that charge tourists more money will be excluded from its marketing efforts.

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