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THIS WEEK 28-1-05

A Review Of Some Of the Main News Stories In Israel Over The Past Seven Days

 2 AUSCHWITZ - PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

3 ISRAEL PALESTINIANS - ROLLING RAPPROCHMENT

4 SDEROT - A DIFFERENT DAWN

5 IRAN - ONE YEAR TO NUCLEAR THREAT

 

AUSCHWITZ - PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

'El Maleh Rachamim' - the prayer for the dead echoed eerily through the Auschwitz death camp; what a survivor called 'another planet'. Sixty years later, world leaders came to mark the liberation of the inferno where over one million people, mostly Jews, were tortured to death by the Germans in Poland. Amid the speeches, Miriam Yahav who now lives in Israel held up her arm with the tattooed number of the Nazis: 'They took away my name and gave me a number. Why, Why did they do that, and why did they burn my whole family here!'With the specter of the crematorium in full view, a Polish official speaks of how Auschwitz is the biggest graveyard in Europe, but without graves.

Earlier, at the United Nations, Secretary General Koffi Anan points to the enormity of the Holocaust:

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel says the one and a half million Jewish children were sentenced to death at their very birth by the Nazis:

Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom then declared to the nations of the world:

And in the parliament of the Jewish state which rose from the ashes of the Holocaust, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused the Allies of refusing to bomb Auschwitz and stopping the genocide. The lesson was that Israel must depend only upon herself to defend her people.Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky declared that although the death camps were liberated sixty years ago, anti-Semitism lives on in the present.

And the comment of Germany's Foreign Minister Joscha Fischer, a proven friend of Israel:

ROLLING RAPPROCHEMENT

So far, so good - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is sincerely trying to halt the Qassam and mortar attacks from Gaza. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reciprocated by renewing political contacts and a summit is just around the corner. Sharon even talks about conditions for a 'historic breakthrough'. The 'quiet for quiet' approach is the basis for building new credibility and momentum between Israelis and Palestinians after the more than four years of bloodshed. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz will also meet Palestinian security official Mohamed Dachlan to plan the re-entry of Palestinian security forces into Palestinian towns. Those towns were previously evacuated by the IDF which moved back in after Yasser Arafat turned them into bases for suicide bombers. If all goes well, Sharon is also taking about coordinating the upcoming withdrawal with the Palestinians. Coalition partner Shimon Peres of Labor says this is what is coming up:

For the record - it should be crystal clear now that Arafat was indeed the obstacle to Israel and the Palestinians moving ahead on the peace process. Less than three weeks. Since the election of Mahmoud Abbas, the atmosphere has changed dramatically for the better.Abbas, the Palestinian partner wears a business suit, not a military uniform as did Arafat and Israeli leaders feel he means business about halting the violence. Although there may be attacks from time to time, Abbas is passing the test of making a one hundred percent effort. So, although everyone agrees the situation is still very fragile, it is now on to the summit, possible coordination on the withdrawal and Israeli good will gestures including the release of some Palestinian prisoners. This then is the run-up to the Roadmap but Israeli officials declare there will be 'no short-cuts' when it comes to implementing the peace plan and that means not just a cease- fire but the dismantling of the terrorist threat altogether.

The new quiet should remove Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's opposition to the unilateral disengagement. Whether Shas bolsters Sharon's coalition now depends on social welfare issues.Right-wingers, opposed to the withdrawal, are not impressed with what they view as a temporary quiet by the Palestinians. They plan a huge protest rally in Jerusalem on January 31st. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom says he does not sleep well at night, because he fears a civil war over the evacuation. Both Shalom and Finance Minister Netanyahu have repeated their calls for a national referendum on the withdrawal issue.

IRAN - FUTURE NUCLEAR THREAT

Less than a year until Iran will pass the 'nuclear point of not return'. Mossad Director Meir Dagan says by the end of 2005, the ayatollahs in Tehran will acquire the capability of enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within a couple of years. Tehran is on record, Ayatollah Rafsanjani for example, warning that an Islamic nuclear weapon could destroy the Jewish state. Meanwhile, the Iranians have been deeply involved in arming and supporting Hizballah terrorism from south Lebanon and Palestinian violence as well. On a visit to Britain, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz hoped that diplomatic efforts would stop the Iranians. However, clearly time is running out says MK Yuval Steinitz, Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee:

Although, Israel has deployed its Arrow missiles, which can knock out incoming ballistic missiles, no system is fool-proof and the Jewish State may soon be threatened with annihilation, sixty years after the liberation of Auschwitz.

SDEROT - 'NEW DAWN OR RED DAWN?'

The small Israeli town, just across the border from the Gaza Strip is nearly back to normal after being bombarded for months by Palestinian rockets and mortars. Sderot is a tidy, well-kept town where immigrants from Morocco and Russia, from Libya and Romania live in harmony. In a show of solidarity, the cabinet and the Knesset went south to hold special sessions in Sderot. The MKs went to a special tree planting ceremony at an elementary school; it was there that teachers had fifteen seconds to rush the kids into bomb shelters after 'Red Dawn', the wailing of sirens, which warn that Palestinians in Gaza have just launched Qassam rockets. During the months of ordeal, it was Mayor Elie Moyal who kept it together for his town after children and parents were murdered by the terror attacks. Some angry voices in Israel called for the IDF to shell the nearby Palestinian town of Beit Hanun from where the terrorists launched the Qassams. Instead, Mayor Moyal led a peaceful protest march down the road towards Beit Hanun calling on Sderot's neighbors to halt the violence.Moyal said the visit by cabinet ministers and Knesset members means a lot to his residents:

Nurit Derri, a teacher at the school, says it hasn't been easy:

And MK Yuli Edelstein, the Deputy Knesset speaker brought this message to the residents of Sderot:

At a 'town hall' meeting, high school pupils plied the MKs about wanting to build their lives in Sderot and the need to create jobs so they could. They were also worried that the shelling had disrupted their studies for their upcoming matric exams. Mayor Moyal announced that six Israel companies have signed contracts to build new plants in Sderot and that by next year their will be no unemployment in the town. The Knesset members returned to Jerusalem pledging to support Sderot saying they were inspired by the spirit of the town which did not break under fire. And the last word comes from seven-year-old Ofek Sheetrit who recited a special prayer ending with the words that the children of Sderot will never again hear the sirens of 'Red Dawn'. We left Sderot with the singing of the school pupils of what is now their most popular song:'We're not leaving town because of the Qassams, Even if it may cost us in blood!'

David Essing

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