Friday, November 11, 2005

A7news: PA Officers: We'll Only Target Israel

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PA Officers: We´ll Only Target Israel
In a letter sent this week to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), official PA militia officers declare that, even as internal security collapses, they will only point their guns at Israel.
Full Story Below

 1. PA Officers: We´ll Only Target Israel
 2. A Series of Dramatic Archaeological Finds
 3. Pace of Immigration From Ethiopia to Double
 4. "The Chief of Staff is Transient - The Torah is Not"
 5. Polls Give Peretz-Led Labor 27 Knesset Seats
 6. Hevron Marks 940 Years Since Rambam´s Visit
 7. Al Qaeda Building Training Camps in Gaza

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Editor: Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
Friday, November 11, 2005
9 Cheshvan 5766


1. PA Officers: We´ll Only Target Israel
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz & Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

In a letter sent this week to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), official PA militia officers declare that, even as internal security collapses, they will only point their guns at Israel.

In the letter, revealed by UPI, the officers warn that the Palestinian Authority (PA) security apparatus is on the verge of collapse due to widespread corruption and the ongoing state of anarchy that exists in autonomous areas.

The authors of the letter to Abu Mazen state that they reject ongoing US and Israeli pressure demanding the disarming of PA terrorist organizations. Instead, the militia officers declared, their weapons will only be pointed at Israel and at Israel's Arab agents fighting terrorism in the PA.

Under the shadow of this warning, the PA is preparing for local elections, which will include the Islamist Hamas terrorist group. The Hamas is widely seen among the PA Arabs as representing a turn away from official corruption and neglect. Growing unrest among PA Arabs was reflected in the results of a new poll by the Palestinian Center of Public Opinion, which showed a 20 percent drop in the number supporting a halt to violence against Israel.

While the PA officers' letter confirms situation analysis reports from Israeli army intelligence, Chief of Army Intelligence Major-General Aaron Ze'evi-Farkash told cabinet ministers last month that Abu Mazen can take control of the situation if he so chooses. However, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon contended in a lecture to the Washington Institute for Near East Peace this week that Abbas has decided to exhibit a weak profile, seeking to use this to his advantage in negotiations with Israel.

Meanwhile, sniper fire, Molotov cocktail attacks and stone throwings, reminiscent of the breakout of the Intifada in the late 1980s, have become more widespread in the past several weeks. IDF soldiers found two weapons and bullet shells Thursday night on the road to Ma'aleh Michmash after terrorists shot at an Israeli vehicle. No one was injured in that attack.

In Bethlehem, the PA claimed it had arrested five Al-Aqsa Marytrs Brigades terrorists, affiliated with the ruling Fatah movement, involved in the murder of three young Israelis hitchhiking on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion road last month. There was no confirmation of the arrests from Israeli sources.

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2. A Series of Dramatic Archaeological Finds
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Archaeologists announced this week the discovery of a 3,000-year-old Hebrew inscription. It is merely the latest of a series of dramatic archaeological finds in Israel in recent months.

Archaeologists have discovered a 40-pound stone containing the oldest known example of the Hebrew alphabet. The stone, inscribed with the Hebrew alphabet written out in its traditional order, was found in the wall of a building dated from the 10th century BCE in Tel Zayit, ancient Judea, south of Jerusalem. The building itself was part of a network of structures at the site, indicating an important border town connected to a centralized kingdom.

The discovery was made by Dr. Ron Tappy, a professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, on the last day of a five-week dig at Tel Zayit. "This is very rare," he said, "This makes it very historically probable there were people [3,000 years ago] who could write." In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Tappy said, "All successive alphabets in the ancient world, including the Greek one, derive from this ancestor at Tel Zayit."

In addition to constituting an important contribution in understanding the history of writing, the inscription helps to counter claims that the Bible could not have been written by Jews in ancient times, experts said. The find, in its context, suggests literacy levels that support Biblical writings of a unified Jewish kingdom.

Further details of the Tel Zayit discovery are to be reported next week during a meeting of experts on Biblical literature in Philadelphia.

For Biblical scholars, the latest discovery dovetails with another ancient Hebrew inscription found in August of this year in an archeological dig in the City of David, adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem. The inscription was on a royal seal dating to the period of the First Temple. The seal has the name of Yehudi, son of Shelemiah, one of the top officials in the court of the last Judean king prior to the destruction of the First Temple, King Zedekiah. He is mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah.

The seal was found at the site of the palace of the Judean kings, according to archaeologists under the supervision of Dr. Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University. Several years ago, another circa-580 BCE royal seal was found in the same area. It had the name of Gemaryahu, son of Shafan, who is also mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah as a top official in the court of King Zedekiah's predecessor, King Yehoyachim.

The discovery of the ancient alphabet in Tel Zayit was preceded last week by the announcement of the discovery of a rare Christian religious structure from the 3rd-4th centuries CE on the grounds of Megiddo Prison, in northern Israel. Excavations at the site, carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), included the discovery of an impressive mosaic floor and three ancient Greek inscriptions.

IAA excavation supervisor Yotam Tefer said, "This is a unique and important structure vis-a-vis our understanding of the early period of Christianity..."

One of the inscriptions is dedicated to the memory of four women: Primilia, Kiraka, Dorothea and Crista. Other inscriptions memorialize the people who contributed to the church, including a military officer.

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3. Pace of Immigration From Ethiopia to Double
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz & Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Even as India successfully pressed for a halt to conversions to Judaism in Manipur and Mizoram, Ethiopia agreed to double the number of Jews emigrating to Israel each month.

Israel and Ethiopia have reached an agreement that would set the number of people immigrating from Ethiopia to Israel each month at 600. Ethiopian-Israeli activists had warned that at the previous 300-per-month pace, many would die before the 20,000-strong Jewish community in the African state would make it home to Israel.

In October, family members of those Jews still in displaced persons camps in Ethiopia held a demonstration in Jerusalem calling on the government to speed up the pace of immigration. In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to expedite the aliyah (immigration) of Ethiopian Jews, in an effort to save many lives. However, government sources claimed, the Ethiopian government was, until now, not forthcoming.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has pressured Israel into ordering a halt to conversions in the areas of Manipur and Mizoram. Such conversions were facilitating the aliyah of members of the Bnei Menashe community, who are considered a "lost tribe" dating back more than 2,500 years.

Israel recently authorized rabbis to travel and convert Bnei Menashe members in their own communities, as a result of changes in Interior Ministry directives prohibiting immigration for the purpose of conversion. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had authorized the conversions, saying that he recognized the Bnei Menashe as Israelites who followed Jewish laws and traditions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "The Indian authorities, through official channels, told us they do not view positively initiated efforts at conversions to other religions." He said a Knesset committee has asked the government to reconsider the location of the conversions.

Nearly 1,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community have moved to Israel, and a large number live in Judea and Samaria. Several families also lived in the dismantled communities in Gush Katif. About 6,000 families of the community remain in India.

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4. "The Chief of Staff is Transient - The Torah is Not"
By Ezra HaLevi

Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan is demanding that the hesder (joint Torah study and military service) yeshiva in the Shomron town of Elon Moreh be dismantled due to the head rabbi's views on refusal.

The reason for Halutz’s demand is that the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, called upon his students to refuse orders to take part in the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria.

The Chief of Staff praised soldiers from hesder yeshivas this past week while leveling harsh criticism against those academies from which calls to refuse orders emanated. Halutz wrote to Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz recently requesting that the yeshiva be dissolved.

In addition to the effort to close Elon Moreh’s yeshiva, Halutz plans on working to close three other schools. There are ongoing efforts within the IDF to gather evidence against rabbis who advised their students to refuse orders.

The decision to dismantle a hesder yeshiva must be made by Defense Minister Mofaz who according to law is responsible for the arrangement that enables such academies to incorporate Torah study into the five-year military program.

Rabbi Levanon told Arutz-7’s Yigal Schok that what is on the agenda is the frontal conflict of the Torah and Jewish law with the law of the state. He said that at a time when he did his best to reduce that conflict, he is faced with the fact that a man who calls for acting in accordance with Jewish law is threatened with losing his job and position.

The yeshiva, he says, will continue to operate regardless of what happens. “I am not worried about me and I am not worried about the yeshiva. But if the army wishes it and the state feels the need to behave this way instead of protecting real freedom of expression and religious honesty – and if the other rabbis and rosh yeshivas are not bothered that when someone expresses his religious truth he is fired for it - then the yeshiva will give up its hesder status.”

Rabbi Levanon is not phased by the prospect of losing hesder status and says he would always choose expressing his honest view of the word of Torah over subjecting his Torah study academy to the whims of the political system. “We will wait for other times, because there will always be a different Chief of Staff and different decisions – all subject to change. The yeshiva and the Torah, however, are not subject to change and they will stand. The Torah truth will continue to make its own way.”

“The ramifications of closing a hesder yeshiva effect the separation of religion and state – that is the severity of the Chief of Staff’s actions,” Rabbi Levanon said. “The seriousness of such a move is that the state becomes the ruler – the arbiter. Every halachic (Jewish legal) matter that becomes forbidden to rule on publicly because it contradicts the state thus suffocates and crushes the Torah.

Rabbi Levanon added that if defenders of both Torah and democracy did not come out against such a decision – Torah personalities, yeshiva heads, the association of hesder yeshivas and chief rabbinate – they must take into account that today they are closing a yeshiva for this reason and tomorrow they will close a yeshiva for another reason. Today they are closing a hesder yeshiva and tomorrow they will close a huge rabbinical seminary because the rosh yeshiva said something that upset someone in the state’s top brass, and eventually the Torah will be pushed into a remote corner – ‘to await the coming of the messiah.’ ”

Rabbi Levanon also insisted that the chief rabbis, who were appointed to oversee the halachic side of the state, need to make their opinions heard when the matter is relevant to their field.

“The stain of the expulsion is a stain upon all of the IDF that took part but does not invalidate the IDF for the fact that at its head stands a Chief of Staff who made a unilateral decision,” said Rabbi Levanon, who calls upon his students to continue to serve in the IDF.

“The question that needs to be asked is, if the Chief of Staff wishes to punish a rosh yeshiva, why is he punishing the students of that yeshiva as well? He can refuse to accept the signature of the rosh yeshiva on the hesder arrangement so why is he blaming the students? What is the connection?”

The rabbi does not plan on keeping his views to himself in the future and is not worried about the consequences of the Chief of Staff’s campaign against him. “I will not go to war for my honor or for my view of Torah. Instead, I will continue my educational work in the matter which I feel is right.”

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5. Polls Give Peretz-Led Labor 27 Knesset Seats
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Two polls conducted immediately after Wednesday's dramatic revolution in the Labor party show that the party led by victor Amir Peretz will win one-third more seats in the next Knesset elections.

A poll in the Hebrew daily Ma'ariv gives the Peretz-led Labor party 27 mandates. A survey conducted by Professor Camil Fuchs for Haaretz-Dialog gave Labor 28 seats, while the Likud led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received 39 mandates, only one less than the current number.

Peretz already has made it clear that Labor will not remain in the coalition with Prime Minister Sharon. The only question concerning elections is whether the Prime Minister and Peretz will agree on the timing of new elections or whether Labor will force the issue and topple the government unilaterally.

Labor currently has 21 Knesset members, including Peretz and one other MK from his Am Echad faction, which merged with Labor last year. The Likud party has 40 seats. Shinui (15), the National Religious Party (formerly six MKs and now four) and the Hareidi United Torah Judaism party (five MKs, now in two factions) have been in various coalitions since the last elections.

Labor's new support will come from the ranks of Shinui and the six-member Meretez-Yachad party. Both parties will be left with half of their present strength, according to the poll.

The survey's results also halve the strength of the Shas party, which has 11 MKs. Peretz holds appeal to disaffected Shas supporters, but so does the National Union party, which can win more than 20 mandates if it merges with the National Religious party (NRP), according to recent polls.

Peretz's victory has caused a wave of euphoria among working-class party members and in the Sephardic community. The new party chairman, who has headed the national Histadrut labor union for many years, was born in Morocco in 1952 and grew up in the working-class Negev town of Sderot. His win over long-time party leader Shimon Peres represents a revolution in the party, whose Ashkenazi members have dominated the party since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

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6. Hevron Marks 940 Years Since Rambam´s Visit
By Arutz Sheva Staff

Worshippers at the Patriarchs' Cave in Hevron Friday morning marked the 940th anniversary of Maimonides visit to the city, burial place of the Jewish people's Biblical ancestors.

The Rambam, an acronym for Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, or Maimonides, visited Hevron from Egypt in 1066, on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. The visit was part of a tour by the venerated scholar to Jewish holy sites throughout Israel, including the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In writing of his journey to Hevron and to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Rambam described his trip:
We left Acco for Jerusalem under perilous conditions.... On the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of Cheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hevron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela [Patriarchs' Cave].

And on that day, I stood in the cave and I prayed, praised G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth [when he prayed at the Temple Mount] and the ninth of Mar-Cheshvan, I vowed to make as a special holiday in which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink. May the L-rd help me to keep my vows.
Rambam was the chief physician to the Egyptian sultan and was consulted by Jews as a doctor and spiritual advisor. He also compiled a massive codification of Jewish law, known as the Mishneh Torah or Yad HaChazakah.

Noam Arnon, spokesman for the Hevron Jewish community, said that in the near future, a new Internet site entitled "Patriarchs' Cave" will note historic visits of leading rabbis to Hevron.

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7. Al Qaeda Building Training Camps in Gaza
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