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Olmert: No Way to Stop Kassams


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that he is unable to stop Kassam rockets from being fired into Israel. Speaking at the 35 World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, he said, "You know very well that notwithstanding all the pain there is no comprehensive, complete and permanent solution once and for all, like a blink of an eye." Olmert, who has been criticized for not visiting Sederot, expressed sympathy for the residents there. "I want to say at this opportunity, here and now, to the people of Sederot, to the kibbutzim and other towns, that there is no one who understands more the pain, anxiety, and uncertainty that you are experiencing."

Olmert, Abbas Expected to Meet Thursday in Jordan

By VOA News &

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are expected to meet at an international gathering in Jordan this week.

Jordanian officials said the two would attend a breakfast Thursday hosted by Jordan's King Abdullah as part of a forum for Nobel laureates, including Elie Wiesel, in Petra. It would be the first meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders since Olmert took office last month.

In the latest violence, witnesses said an Israeli air strike wounded at least four people at the Jebaliya refugee camp in Gaza City. Israeli has not commented on the report. Israel often uses air strikes against suspected Palestinian murderers.

Meanwhile, residents of the Israeli town of Sderot are staging protests to demand a stronger Israeli response to rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. Israeli officials said the Palestinians have fired about 130 rockets at Sderot in the past 10 days. The rocket attacks rarely cause deaths or heavy damage.

Abbas has warned the terrorist groups that they would only have themselves to blame if continued attacks on Israel draw IDF retaliation against the Gaza Strip.

In a statement released by his office on Tuesday, Abbas "calls on all armed groups to cease firing rockets immediately and to fully respect the truce" agreed upon by Hamas and Fatah early last year. "Any faction that does not respect the truce will bear the entire responsibility for the destruction and casualties that will result from an Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip," the statement said.

Israel, Palestinians to Join Red Cross, Red Crescent

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

An international Red Cross conference is set to approve the membership of Israel's aid organization, Magen David Adom and the Palestine Red Crescent. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will amend its statutes to add another emblem, named the "Red Crystal," paving the way for their participation.

If all goes according to plan, the Palestine Red Crescent Society will be admitted as a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement at the same time as Israel's Magen David Adom.

The Movement's Special Adviser on the Emblem, Christopher Lamb, said all societies want to see this happen, and that their work would reach a new level of acceptability once they join.

"What we will then have is in one of the most difficult humanitarian scenarios in the world, both the societies committed to the same set of fundamental principles and humanitarian requirements, working together to bring to the people of that very distressed region, and it gets more distressed every day… to bring to them some comfort. So we see a direct humanitarian benefit for the people of the region as well from this resolution going forward," he said.

This controversial issue has been simmering for more than six decades. Israel first tried to join the International Red Cross Movement in 1949, but Middle Eastern politics have kept Israel out. Another problem leading to Israel's isolation is its refusal to use either of the two globally recognized symbols, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.

Lamb said this problem would be solved if the resolution to adopt a third humanitarian emblem, the Red Crystal, is approved at this conference. "We can use it as an emblem to be carried by any national society that wishes to be admitted to the movement as a member and that primarily is the Israeli society," he added.

Israel's Magen David Adom would be able to place a red Star of David in the center of the new diamond shaped symbol.

The American Red Cross froze its contributions to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies six years ago to protest Israel's exclusion from the movement. A spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, Devorah Goldburg, said $45 million has been withheld over that period.

She would not now say whether those funds would be restored once the issue has been resolved. But she said the admission of the Israeli and Palestinian societies would make the international movement truly universal.

"The American Red Cross believes that the admission of both the MDA [Magen David Adom] and the Palestine Red Crescent Society will absolutely help further their cooperation, their humanitarian work-serving the people in whose community they currently serve. So absolutely, we think it will be very beneficial and that the cooperation will continue," she said.

Delegates here do not expect a smooth ride. Syria is leading a group of Muslim states that plan to confront the Red Cross movement over attempts to introduce a third humanitarian emblem.

The Red Cross said it hoped the resolution would be passed by consensus, but it is prepared for a vote if necessary. A two-thirds majority would be required for the resolution to be adopted.

Jailed Hamas Official: If We Win PA Chair, We'll Talk with Israel

By Ha'aretz
Sheikh Hassan Yusuf, a member of the Palestinian parliament and the most senior Hamas member in an Israeli jail, told Ha'aretz in an interview from prison: "If Hamas participates in elections for PA chairman and wins, undoubtedly we'll conduct diplomatic negotiations with Israel."

Yusuf spoke with Ha'aretz for an hour from Ketziot prison despite a ban by the Shin Bet security service and the Prisons Service on interviews with him. He is awaiting trial for membership in Hamas. Yusuf, 51, from Ramallah, is considered one of the organization's more moderate leaders.

Yusuf said a lengthy cease-fire that would take effect if Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders would be considered a kind of recognition of two entities side by side. He said the green light Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gave to ministers to talk with Israel on technical matters showed a type of willingness for dialogue.

"Hamas' doors are open to everyone," he said. "Willingness for a state based on the '67 borders and a long-term hudna are a very positive change in the stand of the organization." Yusuf warned that if the Hamas government were toppled the organization would go underground, leading to a severe escalation,

55,000 Jewish Burial Records Online


The Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts has launched a genealogical online search link. All one has to do in order to locate a relative's burial records is go to , click on "Services", then click "Genealogical Search" and enter the name or the first four letters of the last name.

According to JCAM, with just a click of a button, the relative's burial location, name of cemetery and directions are displayed on the screen.

With this new online search, the Jewish community now has access to JCAM's 55,000 online burial database to fill in the blanks on family trees or simply for visitation purposes. This is another way of reconnecting Jewish families with their past and perpetuating the continuity of Jewish cemeteries well into the future, JCAM said in a press release.

A Moral Dilemma: Rabbi, is it OK to Eat Human Flesh?


Compact Discs containing Halakhic, moral questions raised before rabbis by Jews during the Holocaust were revealed for first time Tuesday. Among other things, rabbis ruled that use of medications produced by Nazis after experimenting on Jews was forbidden because of fear of desecration of dead

Was it right to give a German soldier a gold watch in exchange for killing my father without torturing him? Is resorting to cannibalism allowed during famine in the ghetto? These are only two examples of dilemmas raised by Jews during the Holocaust and collected in more than 150 books throughout the years.

A CD containing the dilemmas was produced by the Claims Conference (an organization representing global Jewry on issues of reparations against Germany and Austria) in association with Bar-Ilan University and the Netivei Halacha institute.

The different issues that rabbis had to answer dealt mainly with Halakhic questions that Jews had to face during the Holocaust, but also provide a view to the difficult moral dilemmas they had to contend with on a daily basis.

One example is the question of whether a Jew can use medications produced by the Nazis after experimenting on Jewish people. Rabbis determined at the time that despite it being a medication, one cannot make use of a person who was killed and therefore using this medication is forbidden and is considered desecration of the dead.

As far as consuming human flesh in situations of famine, which was the general condition in ghettos and concentration camps, the rabbis' instruction was that it is permitted only if it saves lives, but the general notion was that one should not resort to it as one would lose human character.

One of the issues featured in the CD is a case in which a father and son were beaten up by a German soldier. The soldier told the child that if he gave him the gold watch he was wearing he would have mercy on the father and would kill him with a gunshot without torturing him. The child handed his watch to the German soldier and "in exchange" the solder shot and killed the father.

After the war, the child suffered greatly from pangs of conscience over the event and asked rabbis for advice. Following long deliberations, the rabbis ruled that the child lived in an impossible reality of chaos, as they called it, and therefore his action was acceptable. The rabbis did recommend, however, that he should busy himself with charity in order to purify himself of the emotions of guilt he was surrounded by.

A question that many Jews asked during the Holocaust was whether it is allowed to get married at a time of war. Rabbis determined at the time that holding a marriage ceremony during wartime is unadvisable since many women could remain "agunot" (women who are bound in marriage to husbands that are missing or not proven dead). Additionally, rabbis said that single women could hide or better integrate in labor camps and therefore save their lives.

Barbra Streisand Goes on U.S. Tour


Just a few years after calling it quits, one of the greatest singers of all-time is back on tour. Barbra Streisand's new tour is set to begin on October 4 in Philadelphia, and then continue to the Madison Square Garden in New York, Boston, Sunrise FL, Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Sun Jose and Los Angeles. All in all, Streisand is set to give 22 concerts.

If you are desperate to watch her in action, tickets are already available online, for the humble price of up to $4,560. If you can't afford that, seats a little further from the stage can be had for starting at around $200.

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