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Peres Tells Iran It Could Also Be 'Wiped Out'

By Israel News Faxx Services

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Monday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, should bear in mind that his own country could also be destroyed. "Those who threaten to destroy are in danger of being destroyed," he told Channel 1 TV.

In an interview with Reuters, Peres said Iran was mocking the international community's attempts to resolve the crisis over its nuclear ambitions and that the credibility of the United Nations Security Council was on the line.

In what Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has described as a threat that must be taken seriously, Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be destroyed. "They want to wipe out Israel... Now when it comes to destruction, Iran too can be destroyed [but] I don't suggest saying an eye for an eye," Peres told Reuters.

"Israel would defend itself under any condition but we don't look upon it as an Iranian-Israeli conflict exclusively... [Iran] is basically a danger to the world, not just to us."

Iranian officials have argued Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel did not constitute a threat and said its armed forces would retaliate for any attack.

Israel, which lies within range of Iranian ballistic missiles, has also refused to rule out military action as a last resort. Israel is believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal.

Palestinians Factions Battle in Gaza

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Three Palestinian gunmen have been killed in heavy fighting between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. More than a dozen people were also wounded in the violence. Observers said it was the worst violence between the Hamas and Fatah Palestinian factions since Hamas took control of the Palestinian government.

Reporter Mohammed Dawas in Gaza City said the fighting has eased, but there are fears that it could start again at any time. "That is what people are afraid of," he said. "People are calling on it (violence) not to increase. They want it to be contained, because, if it spreads, it is going to be impossible to control."

The fighting began near the Gaza town of Khan Younis, after Hamas and Fatah militants began kidnapping each other. Violence soon spiraled out of control.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a senior Hamas terrorist, told a Gaza news conference he was taking steps to stop the violence. He said he has ordered the Palestinian Interior Ministry to take all necessary steps to ensure the violence does not spread to other areas of Gaza.

The clashes followed failed talks on Saturday and Sunday between Haniyeh of Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. The two men were trying to resolve who would control Palestinian security forces, long under the domination of Fatah.

The tensions have been compounded by a financial crisis within the Palestinian Authority. Civil servants have not been paid in nearly two months. Foreign aid to the Palestinians has been suspended, because Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and disarm.

PA Religious Group: Christian Zionists Worship Satan


A senior Palestinian Authority religious leader said Monday on a PA-affiliated website that Christian Zionists worship "Satan as God", according to an article on the Palestinian Media Watch website.

The author of the article, Hamed Al-Tamimi, is a member of the Supreme [Islamic] Judicial Council. The Palestinian Media Watch noted that Al-Tamimi has held that position since before the election of Hamas as the new PA ruling party.

Al-Tamimi is the director of the Inter-Religion Dialogue Department, as indicated in the article byline published on PMW's website. He charges that the Christian Zionists, together with Jewish Zionists, "both agree on hatred of Islam and the Muslims and on [the goal] to destroy them".

He goes on to slam the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, accusing the organization of "criminal activities against the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian people".

PA hatred of Christians is not new. The PMW noted in a previous article that "the Palestinian Authority religious leadership has been presenting its war against Israel's existence as merely one part of its global Islamic war being fought against the Christian-Jewish West.

The PMW quoted a PA TV religious leader who announced a prayer for the murder of "infidels" – a term that includes the Christian West, it notes. "Destroy the Infidels and the Polytheists!" the prayer exhorts viewers. "Count them and kill them to the last one, and don't leave even one."

Nor does the Balfour Declaration escape notice in Monday's article. "Balfour and Prime Minister Lloyd George were Christian Zionists," said Al-Tamimi.

Al-Tamimi concluded his diatribe with an accusation against the International Christian Embassy, "who adopted Satan as God who drives their crazy nature. They have praised depravity and cursed virtue," he went on, "and have reached [a point] in which forgery, deception and lying have turned into descriptions of world policy which is led by the Zionism on both its branches – the Jewish and the Christian".

Nazis `Shipped Arms to Palestinians'


A British Foreign Office report from 1939 reports of "news of a consignment of arms from Germany, sent via Turkey and addressed to Ibn Saud (king of Saudi Arabia), but really intended for the Palestine insurgents." Britain's chief military officer in Mandatory Palestine also noted reports "regarding import of German arms at intervals for some years now."

British documents from the same period, and German records photographed by an American spy and sent to the British government, said that a number of Nazi agents were sent to Mandatory Palestine, in order to forge alliances with Palestinian leaders, and urge them to reject a partition of the land between the Jewish and Arab populations.

One Nazi agent, Adam Vollhardt, arrived in Palestine in July 1938, and was reported to have gained strong influence with Arab leaders, meeting with Palestinian leaders throughout 1938. Vollhardt held several meetings with leading Arab politicians and told them "that the Palestine question would be settled to the satisfaction of the Arabs within a few weeks," adding that "it would be fatal to their (Palestinians') cause if at this juncture they showed any signs of weakness or exhaustion.

"Germany was interested in the settlement of the (Palestine) question on the basis of the Arabs obtaining their full demands," Vollhardt was reported to say to Palestinian leaders, according to a report by the British War Office. Vollhardt also assured Arab leaders that "the Germans could continue to support the Palestinian Arab cause by means of propaganda."

German documents photographed and sent to Whitehall by an American spy revealed that in 1937, German officials had calculated that "Palestine under Arab rule would… become one of the few countries where we could count on a strong sympathy for the new Germany.

"The Palestinian Arabs show on all levels a great sympathy for the new Germany and its Fuhrer, a sympathy whose value is particularly high as it is based on a purely ideological foundation," a Nazi official in Palestine wrote in a letter to Berlin in 1937. He added: "Most important for the sympathies which Arabs now feel towards Germany is their admiration for our Fuhrer, especially during the unrests, I often had an opportunity to see how far these sympathies extend. When faced with a dangerous behavior of an Arab mass, when one said that one was German, this was already generally a free pass."

German records show that the Nazis viewed the establishment of a Jewish state with great concern. A 1937 report from German General Consulate in Palestine said: "The formation of a Jewish state… is not in Germany's interest because a (Jewish) Palestinian state would create additional national power bases for international Jewry such as for example the Vatican State for political Catholicism or Moscow for the Communists. Therefore, there is a German interest in strengthening the Arabs as a counter weight against such possible power growth of the Jews."

The records also show that the news of increased Nazi-Arab cooperation panicked the British government, and caused it to cancel a plan in 1938 to bring to Palestine 20,000 German Jewish refugees, half of them children, facing danger from the Nazis. Documents show that after deciding that the move would upset Arab opinion, Britain decided to abandon the Jewish refugees to their fate.

"His Majesty's Government asked His Majesty's Representatives in Cairo, Baghdad and Jeddah whether so far as they could judge, feelings in Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia against the admission of, say 5,000 Jewish children for adoption… would be so strong as to lead to a refusal to send representatives to the London discussions. All three replies were strongly against the proposal, which was not proceeded with," a Foreign Office report said.

"If war were to break out, no trouble that the Jews could occasion us, in Palestine or elsewhere, could weigh for a moment against the importance of winning Muslim opinion to our side," Britain's Minister for Coordination of Defense, Lord Chatfield, told the British cabinet in 1939, shortly before Britain reversed its decision to partition its mandate, promising instead all of the land to the Palestinian Arabs.

Bedridden Receive a `Traveling Torah'

By Israel Faxx News Services

Jewish patients nearing their final hours of life often find strength and spiritual healing in holding the Torah, praying with it, or simply having it present. A small "traveling" Torah, kept in the Ark of Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, is available to be taken to patient's room, often raising the spirits and morale of gravely ill individuals.

The elderly Russian patient requested water to cleanse his hands before reaching, hesitantly, to touch the holy scroll. He recited a blessing, touched the Torah that had been brought to his hospital bed and wept.

But in the silence of that moment, he appeared transformed, becoming livelier, happier and more hopeful. This man who was gravely ill, whose morale had been sagging, found his spirits restored in a way that no medication could offer.

The Torah that soothed the ailing patient's soul had been brought to his room by Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Levi Meier and Chaplaincy Volunteer Sandy Gordon. It was large and bulky, borrowed from its place in the Ark of the medical center's chapel. But the experience prompted Gordon, in honor of her parents, Milton and Florence Slotkin, to give the hospital a lightweight Torah that could easily be carried and placed in patient rooms and even on their beds.

The new Torah arrived at Cedars-Sinai late in a January afternoon, hand-delivered by father and son rabbis. Both wore long black frock coats and hats to present the Torah, which was covered with a dark blue velvet cloth with golden embroidery and carried an inscription honoring the Slotkins. It was placed in the Ark of the chapel, next to the full-size Torah.

The Torah, the central and most important document of Judaism, is written in Hebrew and always housed in a sacred place in a synagogue called an Ark. When the Torah is carried during services, members of the congregation often reach out and kiss it. Carrying the Torah is a serious responsibility and tremendous honor for those entrusted with its care.

Although Cedars-Sinai's "traveling Torah" is small, the writing is very clear – all done by hand. It quickly took on a major role in the Chaplaincy program, said Rabbi Meier. The day after it arrived, the chaplains took it with them to visit a patient who was feeling discouraged and depressed.

"I haven't seen one of these in such a long time," she said, carefully taking the Torah and cradling it in her arms. "I've felt so separated – from my family, from my people. Now, all of a sudden, I feel connected again."

Patients who are nearing their final hours of life find strength and spiritual healing in holding the Torah, praying with it, or simply having it present. Shortly after an elderly patient's death, a grandson noticed the Torah. "In these past few months, my grandfather lost a lot of his faculties and memories, but one thing he never lost was his connection to the Torah," he said.

Orthodox Judaism Growing Among Young American Jews


A study released by the American Jewish Committee shows that Orthodox Judaism is growing in popularity among under-30 Jews in the U.S.

The study, carried out in honor of the New York-based advocacy group's 100th anniversary, measured Jewish identification trends in the U.S. Jewish population from ages 18 to 39, a group which numbers some 1.5 million Jews. The total Jewish population in the U.S., according to the study, is estimated to be between 5.5 and six million, including Jews who are intermarried.

Some 16% of Jews aged 18 to 29 now identify themselves as Orthodox, revealed the study. In the 30 to 39 age group, slightly more than half of that number (9%) considers themselves Orthodox.

According to the report, the percentage of Orthodox Jews is expected to grow as the population marries and has children, especially in light of the fact that Orthodox Jews place a higher emphasis on having children than do other Jews.

It also found that the overall trend in young Jewish adults is to marry later in life; more than half of all American Jews under age 40 are not married, with men in their 20's "highly likely to be unmarried."

The role played by the State of Israel is also much less important to young Jews today, found the report, a troubling trend. "The Holocaust continues to be profoundly important to a broad spectrum of young Jews," it read, "yet Israel appears to be much less important in positively affecting Jewish identity."

The exception to the rule is the group of Jews who have either traveled to Israel or who identify themselves as Orthodox, both "for whom Israel has powerful positive resonance," it stated.

The report also addressed the climbing statistics of intermarriage and assimilation in the U.S., recommending that outreach programs targeting intermarried Jews be expanded and increased.

"The [outreach] programs which focus on unaffiliated young Jews are much less politically `charged' than programs which focus on the intermarried and in many ways show a greater willingness to welcome the intermarried without stigmatizing them," read the report. "These programs need to be continued and if current demographic trends continue, need to be expanded."

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