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Poll: Israeli Jews want Arabs out


Almost two in three Israeli Jews want their Arab compatriots to leave the country, a poll found. According to the Israel Democracy Institute survey released Tuesday, 62 percent of Israeli Jews answered yes when asked if they would support the government encouraging Israeli Arabs to emigrate. Arabs make up 20 percent of the Israeli population and many are thought to be generally sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Only 14 percent of respondents said they believe Jewish-Arab relations in the country are good.

Warning: Imminent Kidnapping Threat for Israelis in Sinai


The National Security Council has warned of concrete intelligence information of the planned kidnapping of Israelis vacationing in Sinai in the near future. About 400 Israelis are still in Sinai.

A succinct warning issued by the council's Counter-Terrorism Division reads, "A concrete threat has developed in recent days regarding the abduction of Israeli citizens from the Sinai beaches; therefore, the National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Division recommends that all Israelis in Sinai leave immediately."

Israelis continue to flock to Sinai, which was controlled by Israel from 1967 until 1982, despite several attacks and repeated advisories from government agencies advising against it. Though the last two Sinai attacks targeted tourists in Dahab (not necessarily Israelis) and members of the Multinational Force station in Sinai, the council emphasizes that the current threat is aimed specifically at Israeli Jews.

IDF intelligence believes that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups have been operating freely in the Sinai, with the Egyptian government hesitant to combat them head-on due to fear of attacks on Egypt's cities.

Three major bomb attacks on tourist sites have taken place there in the past two years, killing more than 100 people. Prior to the attack in Dahab two weeks ago, Sharm e-Sheikh was bombed in July and Taba was bombed in 2004.

The National Security Council was established in 1999, following Government Resolution 4889, "to serve as a centralized body for, and providing information to, the Prime Minister and the Government regarding issues of national security." The council operates in accordance with directives issued by the Prime Minister and chairman answers directly to him as well.

US Sending Emergency Medical Aid to Palestinians

By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States is sending $10 million in emergency medical aid to the Palestinians, but is maintaining its hard line against direct aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Rice held talks at the United Nations in New York Tuesday with other members of the international Middle East Quartet and Arab foreign ministers.

The new U.S. commitment of emergency medical aid came amid reports of worsening humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian areas, and pressure from other Quartet members for action to ease the Palestinian Authority's financial crisis.

But in a talk with reporters in between morning and afternoon Quartet meetings, Rice insisted again that the economic dilemma is of the Hamas-led Palestinian government's own making, because it has spurned calls from the Quartet and others to accept international terms for Middle East peacemaking.

"No one wants to have to deal with a Palestinian government that, when there is a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, finds that reason to celebrate," said Rice. "That simply is not the appropriate course. And so we will talk about how to make clear that the responsibility for the situation in the Palestinian territories is indeed the responsibility of the Palestinian government, but what we can do also to alleviate the circumstances in which the Palestinian people find themselves."

Shortly after the Hamas election victory in January, the Quartet - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - said donors should not assist the Hamas-led government unless it accepted Israel's right to exist, renounced violence and embraced previous Palestinian commitments including the Quartet's 2003 peace road map.

Hamas, responsible for scores of anti-Israeli suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism in past years, has maintained a cease-fire with Israel but has spurned the terms set by the Quartet.

Missionaries Active Under Cover of Boombamela Festival


The annual Boombamela festival held this year on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, near Ashkelon and Ashdod, served as convenient cover for missionary activity targeting Jewish youth in attendance. A large tent was set up to attract potential converts away from Judaism, raising questions of illegal missionizing.

One man, a father of a 14-year-old boy who attended the three-day New Age festival, wrote a worried letter to Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, in which he described the missionary activity and material his son brought home. Rabbi Amar sent the letter on to Yad L'Achim, an organization dedicated to preventing Jews from falling under missionary influence.

Yad L'Achim told Arutz Sheva that the very presence of a large tent dedicated to missionary activity among teenagers at the festival is a gross violation of a commitment by festival organizers. The Boombamela organizers had made it clear that no missionary activities among minors would be allowed on the festival grounds.

Israel´s Water Buffalo Deemed Kosher


At the behest of two Bar Ilan University researchers, Israel's Chief Rabbi has declared the water buffalo a kosher animal. A different animal, the American bison, has long been considered kosher.

The two researchers - Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky, a Bar Ilan University neuroscience researcher, and Dr. Zohar Amar, of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology - with the help of Dr. Ari Greenspan, a Jerusalem dentist, have been studying the topic of obscure animals and their kashrut status for years. Their research has produced much evidence that may lead to the granting of kosher status to pheasant, guinea fowl, partridge, and others - and now, the water buffalo is kosher due to their work.

Presented with a host of evidence indicating its kashrut, the Rishon LeTzion, Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, has now agreed to issue kosher certification for the water buffalo. This will enable water buffalo breeders to market the animal's kosher meat and kosher milk under the official authorization of the Chief Rabbinate.

Speaking with Arutz-7, Zivotofsky was first asked to explain the significance of Rabbi Amar's ruling, in light of the fact that buffalo meat in the United States has long been considered kosher. "It's two different animals," he said. "The animal in the States is what we call bison, while the one here is water buffalo, known in modern Hebrew by its Arabic name, jamoose. Some call it by its Hebrew biblical name te'o, but the truth we can't be sure that it's the same thing."

A-7: "Is that lack of certainty not a problem?" AZ: "No. The Torah mentions two signs of a kosher animal: It must chew its cud, and must have split hooves. In addition, as Rabbi Amar insisted on, another sign mentioned in the Talmud is that it must have no upper front teeth. We therefore found a skull for Rabbi Amar to examine, and he found that there were no front teeth. Another condition, required by the Chazon Ish, is that there be a tradition about its kashrut status. So after a lot of work and running around, we also found several shochtim [ritual slaughterers] and m'nakrim [those who remove forbidden veins and fats] who remember dealing with this animal. We showed them pictures of the buffalo, and they remembered it; the buffalo used to roam widely here in Israel in the Huleh Valley and elsewhere. Based on this evidence, Rabbi Amar ruled it kosher."

Buffalo are currently raised in Moshav Bitzaron, just east of Ashdod, having been brought over from Italy. Zivotofsky says that these buffalo are the same as those that used to live here in Israel. "The Italian Jewish community still uses these animals today for their milk and meat," he said.

"Another sign," Zivotofsky said, "though not a conclusive one, is that the word 'buffalo' appears in the Shulchan Arukh [the seminal Jewish law code] as a kosher animal. Where did author Rabbi Yosef Karo know this word from? The answer is that he was quoting Rabbi Isaiah of Terrani, Italy, and so it is likely that he is talking about the very same animal that came from Italy and that is now being raised in Bitzaron."

Water buffalo meat has market potential within Israel and abroad. Authentic mozzarella cheese is produced from water buffalo milk, which is also noted for its medicinal uses.

Zivotofsky said that his next project is to try to ascertain the kashrut of yak: "This will be much harder, for there is no tradition regarding it, but it appears to fulfill all the basic requirements of a kosher animal. If anyone can get us a yak skull, it would help us greatly."

Iran's Jews Face Growing Climate of Fear

By The

For the dwindling Jewish community in Iran, a sacred ritual is observed at 6:30 every evening as shortwave radios are switched on to listen to the daily Farsi broadcast from Israel.

Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power last June, life for Iran's 25,000 Jews has become even more precarious as the president defiantly pursues a nuclear policy while declaring Israel should be "wiped off the world map."

Israel has long identified Iran as its biggest threat, and these concerns have grown amid repeated calls by its hard-line president for Israel's destruction.

Last Thursday, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert issued a strongly worded warning that the Jewish state took seriously Iranian threats to wipe out Israel and would defend itself against a country the West suspects of seeking nuclear weapons.

His remarks also came as Western powers sought action by the United Nations to curb Iranian uranium enrichment and other key nuclear processes. "It is becoming a serious matter of concern for Iranian Jews should there be any military action between Iran and Israel," said Israeli broadcaster Menashe Amir.

"The Iranian regime says it does distinguish between Judaism and Zionism, but the local Jewish community knows that is a lie since it has been frequently written by extremists in religious circles that 'every Jew is a Zionist'."

While it is still the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel, a vast number of the population have fled Iran.

The first major movement came in 1948 when the state of Israel was established and the number of Jews in Iran stood at about 150,000. The Islamic revolution in 1979 prompted another movement.

"Every Iranian Jew who had the financial possibility or courage has already left, but there's still a small but flourishing community," said Amir, who moved to Israel from Iran at the age of 20 in 1959. He has been broadcasting for 46 years in Farsi for Israeli state radio.

He is all too familiar with the precarious position of Iranian Jews who are called on by the government to declare their public support for the country's nuclear policy. "Not to mention, every time Iran publicly condemns Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories, the Jewish community is expected to issue a statement of support," he said.

Even though the regime officially recognizes Judaism as an official religious minority and the Jewish community is even allocated a seat in the Iranian parliament, the reality on the ground is different.

Jewish leaders are reluctant to draw attention to incidences of mistreatment of their community, due to fear of government reprisal, along with fear of being arrested or accused of being spies. In 1999, 13 Jews were arrested in the city of Shiraz and charged with spying for Israel. While eventually all were pardoned, it exposed the fragile position of the country's Jewish community.

"While there are Jewish schools, the principals and most of the teachers are Muslim, the Bible is taught in Farsi, not in Hebrew, and the schools are forced to open on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath," Amir said, as he played Hebrew music for his listeners. "So while the regime declares that there is freedom of religion, it is all just for the sake of appearances."

While it is impossible to gauge the program's popularity, whenever listeners are asked to call in from Iran - courtesy of a toll-free number in Europe patched through to the Jerusalem studio - the lines are jammed. Amir said many of those calling were clearly not Jews but Muslim Iranians, disgruntled with the regime and curious to know more about the Zionist enemy.

While the program broadcasts items about Israel and the Jewish world, its news reports on events in Iran itself capture the listeners' interest. Amir was quick to point out that the connection between the two countries extends back some 2,700 years when Jews were exiled to Persian territories.

But in 537 BC, after the overthrow of Babylonia, the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, freed the Jewish slaves and gave them permission to return to their native land. "We are very aware of this, that without Cyrus the Great, Judaism today would either not exist or would be of an entirely different character, so the Jewish people owe a moral debt to Iran in memory of Cyrus's actions," he said.

But with Iran seen to be funding Palestinian terrorist groups including Hizbullah and Hamas, while developing its latest Shihab missile technology with the aim of reaching cities in Europe, Amir highlighted how much had changed since the revolution. "Before 1979, ties between the Iran and Israel were so close that both worked together in developing missile technology," he said.

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