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After 14 years, Israel News Faxx will be taking a one-month-hiatus to recharge batteries. We will return on September 25th with the latest breaking news from Israel and the Middle East. Don't forget to access our full-text, searchable archives that dates to 1994.

Only 1/4 of Israeli-Arabs Supported Israel in War, as Predicted


Though some media headlines blared "Only 18% Supported Hizbullah," poll numbers show that 73% of the Israeli-Arab public refused to say they supported Israel in its war against Hizbullah.

The complete results of the poll taken by pollster Mina Tzemach's Dachaf Institute was released Thursday evening on Knesset Television Channel 99. The numbers that have been publicized thus far have been interpreted in various ways.

Eighteen percent of the Israeli-Arab respondents said they favored Hizbullah in the recent war, while 27% said they favored Israel; another 36% of the Arab citizens said they didn't favor either side. The remaining 19% were not accounted for.

At the same time, the Israeli public was also polled as to how they felt the Arabs sided. 55% said that most or all of the Arab public supported Hizbullah. The other 45% of the Jewish public was divided roughly in half: Half thought that half the Arabs supported Hizbullah, while the other half felt that less than half supported Hizbullah.

Ha'aretz concluded that the Jewish public was proven wrong. Its story was headlined, "Minority of Israeli-Arabs Supported [Hizbullah chief Hassan] Nasrallah," and the inside text said that the Jewish predictions about the Arabs were "different" than what the Arabs actually felt.

In fact, however, the Israeli-Arab tendencies accurately reflected what their Jewish fellow citizens had predicted. 54% of the Arab public said straight out that they did not support Israel, the country of which they are citizens, and another 19% could not say they did support Israel. This jibes with the feeling by 75% of the Jewish public that half or more of the Arabs supported Hizbullah.

This point could also be phrased differently. 54% of the Arab public said straight out that they did not support Israel, jibing with the feeling of 55% of the Jewish public that "most or all" Arabs supported Hizbullah. Furthermore, the additional fact that another 19% of the Arab public could not say they did support Israel corroborates the bottom-line feeling of 75% of the Jewish public that half or more of the Arabs support Hizbullah.

A third interpretation, of sorts, was advanced by Arab Knesset member Ibrahim Tzartzur. He said the survey shows that most of the Arabs oppose the war, and are not necessarily against Israel. "On the other hand, the clear majority of Jews feel the Arabs are a traitorous fifth column," Tzartzour said. "The Jews want the Arabs to be more Zionist than they themselves," he added without explanation.

Israeli Foreign Minister Urges International Community to Act Fast

By Sabina Castelfranco (VOA-Rome)

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said U.N. resolution 1701, aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon, needs to be implemented quickly so that a new era can begin in Lebanon. Livni was speaking in Rome following a meeting with her Italian counterpart Massimo d'Alema, who confirmed Italy's commitment the implementation of the resolution.

Livni said a window of opportunity exists now to change the rules of the game in Lebanon. Israel and Lebanon do not have a conflict and the interests of both their governments are the same as those of the international community.

"About two weeks after resolution 1701 was adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations there is a need of a full and quick implementation of Resolution 1701 and maybe… and I believe that this can be a window of opportunity for the new era in Lebanon," Livni said.

Livni said Israel wants to help the international community implement the United Nations resolution. She said it is not only the Israeli and Lebanese public that are watching this closely. "We are being watched also by extremists who want to put the region in flames and this is also the test of the international community, a test for the determination of the international community."

For his part, the Italian foreign minister expressed the hope that the deployment of international troops in South Lebanon would allow the area to again become part of a sovereign Lebanon. He said Italy is ready to contribute on these different fronts to the effort to resolve the conflict and open a new season of peace and collaboration in the region.

Italy has said it would be willing to lead the peace mission and has so far pledged the largest contingent for the force, offering to send in up to three thousand troops. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said in a statement Thursday Italy had won the U.S. blessing to lead the U.N. force.

US Blasts Syria on Lebanon Peacekeeping

By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)

The United States Thursday welcomed apparent progress in Europe toward fielding an upgraded U.N. peacekeeping force for Lebanon. At the same time, the State Department condemned as "preposterous" Syria's stand that the U.N. force should not be allowed to patrol its border with Lebanon.

Officials in Washington view deployment of the upgraded U.N. force as critical to preventing another outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah, and to getting more humanitarian relief supplies into southern Lebanon.

As such they are welcoming the French decision to commit 2,000 troops to the envisaged 15,000-member force, and saying the United States would support either France or Italy to command the expanded version of the U.N. force in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL.

The French initially signaled a readiness to take the lead of the new UNIFIL, but hesitated last week and said they would commit a total of only 400 soldiers.

However, Thursday French President Jacques Chirac said he was ordering 1,600 additional troops to take part, drawing an expression of relief from the White House, which said President Bush welcomes the French decision.

European Union foreign ministers are to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Friday in Brussels to discuss additional troop commitments and define rules of engagement for the force.

At a news briefing, State Department Acting Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the United States wants a "robust" force that will facilitate withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon, and help fulfill other provisions of the August 12 Security Council resolution ending the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah.

Those, he said, include blocking the transfer of all weapons into Lebanon except those approved by the Beirut government. In that regard, he condemned a statement Wednesday by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he would not accept a UNIFIL presence along his country's border with Lebanon.

The United States has long held that Syria has allowed its territory to be used for trans-shipment of Iranian arms to Hizbullah, and spokesman Gallegos said Syria, as a matter of international law, must obey the U.N. arms ban:

The Syrian president told Dubai television the presence of U.N. troops on the Lebanese side of the border would create what he termed "a state of hostility" between Syria and Lebanon.

Other Syrian officials have warned that if the envisaged deployment occurs, Syria would seal off the border with Lebanon, severing a critical economic lifeline for the country as it struggles to recover from more than a month of warfare.

Yachimovich: Woman Told Me that Katsav Raped Her Repeatedly

By Ha'aretz

Labor Party Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich said Thursday night that the woman accusing President Moshe Katsav of rape while in his employ told her that the president "used every kind of force imaginable" on numerous occasions spanning a few years.

In an interview with Channel 10 on Thursday evening, Yachimovich spoke at length on the case. She said that the president is suspected of raping women on more than one occasion.

A. met Thursday afternoon with Yachimovich. The former President's Residence employee told Yachimovich, in detail, what she revealed to police during questioning about the case.

Yachimovich said that she had heard the alleged victim's story and that A. said she had been raped multiple times over the course of a few years, and that the president had also "allegedly used every kind of force imaginable."

In response to this statement, the president's defense attorney slammed Yachimovich, saying she was trying to take on the role of prosecutor, judge and executioner.

According to Yachimovich, A., like many rape victims, had not dreamt of reporting the case. "I am willing to bet that if the president had not opened his mouth, there would never have been an investigation into the affair," the MK said. She added that as a person who has met with many rape victims before, she is convinced that A. is telling the truth.

Following the meeting, Yachimovich announced that she would add her name to an initiative by her Labor colleague, MK Yoram Marciano, who is looking to gather 20 signatures from MKs in order to begin parliamentary proceedings aimed at removing the president from office.

Yachimovich said that in light of the serious accusations against the president, it would be worthwhile for Katsav to gather his belongings and leave the President's Residence.

Katsav's questioning by police Wednesday over claims by one of his former employees of sexual assault continued for a second day Thursday, with officers interviewing the president for more than four hours at his Jerusalem office.

During questioning Wednesday, in a session which lasted for five hours, police touched on complaints by two more President's Residence staff that Katsav had also had sexual relations with them.

Katsav was questioned under caution for five hours Wednesday over suspicions that he committed various sexual offenses - ranging from sexual harassment to rape - against A., a former employee of the President's Residence. Katsav denied all the allegations, saying he has never had sexual relations with any employee of the President's Residence.

The session began with questions about A.'s accusation that Katsav exploited his power as her employer to force her to have sex with him. "There are a wide variety of sexual offenses alleged against Katsav," a senior police officer said. "The investigating team is currently examining which sections of the law, from rape to illegal consensual sex, he actually violated. Not everything is clear yet."

Within a few days, the investigators are expected to decide whether to stage a confrontation between Katsav and A. They are also expected to decide whether to question Katsav's wife, Gila. "This is a complicated investigation from both the legal and evidentiary standpoints, and it will not be simple to prove the various allegations," said a police source.

I Won't Fall Prey to Jews for Jesus

By Lenore Skenazy (Commentary))

Usually I take any piece of paper some poor soul is handing out, be it breakfast menu or psychic healer special. I even take the Jehovah's Witness magazines, when they're in English. So why do my hands clench into don't-get-that-thing-NEAR-me fists when someone tries to hand me a pamphlet from Jews for Jesus? I honestly didn't know - until I started talking with the Christians and Jews who have studied the group's tactics.

"They're not like anybody else," says Ruth Guggenheim, spokeswoman for the anti-cult group Jews for Judaism. "Most evangelical Christians are straightforward; they come to the door and say they want you to become a Christian. They're honest."

The problem is that the Jews for Jesus - in town last month with their biggest mission ever - say nothing of the sort. While they, too, want Jews to embrace Christ, they only call this becoming a more "fulfilled" or "completed" Jew. And to make it look, well, kosher, they dress it up with Jewish symbols.

"Acknowledge what you're doing! Acknowledge that you're asking people to convert to Christianity!" says Michael Miller, executive vice president at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. Like me, Miller has nothing against people with religious convictions trying to share them, so long as they don't stoop to deception. And this group is trying to look as Jewish as Jackie Mason.

"They speak of their houses of worship as 'synagogues,' and their spiritual leaders as 'rabbis,'" said David Berger, professor of religion at Brooklyn College. "They are trying to appropriate the label of Jewishness."

Their pamphlets feature Jewish jokes. "Good news should make people smile," said Susan Pearlman, a spokeswoman for the group, which is capping a five-year, 65-city tour with its New York City mission. The jokes are all used as parables to explain why Jews should accept Christ.

Sorry. Jews can't. That was decided 2,000 years ago.

The pamphleteers' insidiousness dismays not only Jews like me, but the leaders of other faiths as well - Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, you name it.

The Rev. John Hiemstra, coordinator for the Commission of Religious Leaders of New York City - an organization that includes the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn, the local Council of Churches and the Imams Council of New York - deplores such "deceptive efforts" as "tantamount to coerced conversions." Pretty strong stuff.

But beyond even the evil of deception, there is one more thing that hits me in the gut when a Jew for Jesus tries to convert me. It's a soul-deep sense of insult. "Someone is trying to get you to betray not just your religion, but your parents and your grandparents," says Prof. Berger. "And these people are using Jewish symbols."

That's it! It is an invitation to betrayal dressed up as a celebration of my roots. No wonder I don't take the pamphlets.

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