Israel in the News Aug/Sep 1999
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Macedonian MASH, Israeli Style
“This one we call Yirmiyahu, that one is Tikva and this one here is Fortuna Ziona,” said Col. Dan Engelhard, a pediatrician, pointing to the three newborns under his care.
The three were born in the refugee camp hospital—delivered by Israeli doctors and taped by half a dozen TV crews from around the world.
“How do you say ‘mazal tov’ in Albanian?” one doctor asked. “Te’et mershendat,” the translator answered. “Te’et mershendat. You have a daughter,” said the Israeli doctor.
“I don’t know what we will call her,” said the father, Savid Barisha, who fled Kosovo recently. “But we are looking for a Moslem name connected with Israel.”
But the army field hospital in Macedonia has become more than a delivery ward. Fewer than 24 hours after arriving [at the beginning of the conflict], the Israelis had the only fully equipped hospital available for the tens of thousands of refugees who fled Kosovo. Hundreds of patients seeking medical assistance were heading toward the blue-and-white flag flying from many tents in the compound.
“We are here because we all feel as if we are truly on a mission,” said Maj. Yitzhak Kreiss. “Even if we are only rehydrating the parched, or giving pain relief, or even just vitamins and comfort, I feel as if we have done a lot.”
The field hospital, ferried in on four C-130 cargo planes, has been treating ethnic Albanian refugees with 35 medical staff, some of them regular army officers and others, like Capt. Moshe Efrat from the Carmel Government Hospital in Haifa, on reserve duty. The self-contained, 100-bed hospital has its own laboratory, X-ray equipment, pediatric ward and surgery unit.
Barak Wants U.S. to Scale Back Role
(Taken from Arutz-7)
On the eve of his first visit to Washington as Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Barak said the United States should scale back its role as “policeman and judge” in Mideast peacemaking. Barak also said that while he would resume an Israeli troop pullback in the West Bank, he would not stick to the tight timetable stipulated by the U.S.- brokered Wye River land-for security agreement. The Palestinians disagreed with him on both points, suggesting that many difficulties lie ahead despite the improved atmosphere generated by Barak’s meeting with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat this week. Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, secretary-general of the Palestinian Cabinet, said that the interim Wye agreement must be implemented before Israel and the Palestinians can open negotiations on a final peace agreement. He also said that the U.S. should keep up its intense involvement in the negotiations, saying it was the only way to make progress.
Albanian Israeli Repays a Debt
Dr. Bala Bajram, 54, his army uniform hanging loosely on his frame, is one person who is especially proud to be in Macedonia. He was born and raised in Albania and came to Israel with the Jewish community there when it made aliya in a secret 1991 airlift. He feels he is paying a debt to the Albanians by treating them here today.
“They hid my parents in the hills during the Second World War. The Albanians did not allow one Jew to be handed over to the Nazis. The Albanians would never say that we owe them, but we know and we are here to pay them back,” said the radiologist, who lives in Kiryat Bialik.
Russian Immigration Set to Double in 1999
The financial crisis in Russia could lead to a doubling of immigrants from there in 1999, incoming Jewish Agency Chairman Salai Meridor said recently.
Last year there were 14,454 immigrants from Russia, “and we’ve already seen a 100% increase in the first three months of this year,” Meridor said.
The economic situation there has led to poverty, unemployment and a loss of hope that the situation will improve. This situation, coupled with a rise in anti-semitism, has led to 6,878 visas being issued in the first three months of 1999, compared with 2,359 in the same period last year.
Arafat Worried About Health
In a rare moment of openness, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat told visitors he may not live to see the peace process through. Arafat, who suffers from an uncontrollable trembling of the hands and lower lip, was asked by members of a Washington think tank how he envisioned the PA in 20 years. He answered that “I don’t know if I’ll live one year or two years.” Arafat, 68, has denied persistent reports that his health is failing and that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. However, in recent months he has looked tired and pale in public appearances.
Greeks Get ‘Righteous Among The Nations’ Honor
Fourteen Greeks were awarded Yad Vashem’s “Righteous Among the Nations” title in Athens recently. The eight men and six women provided Jews with fake identification, food or places to hide during the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II. One woman raised a Jewish family’s child, and an Orthodox clergyman instructed other priests to help Jews flee. Only three of those named for the honor are still alive. The others received posthumous awards accepted by their families. More than 90 percent of Greece’s 800,000 Jews perished in Nazi death camps and fewer than 5,000 remain today.
Last Push to Identify All Six Million Victims
Yad Vashem recently launched an international campaign to collect and commemorate the names of all the victims of the Holocaust. Some three million names have already been collected and stored in its Hall of Names, two million on Pages of Testimony, and another million in Yizkor memorial books and other documents from the period.
Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate, said that now is likely to be the last chance, as the surviving generation is getting older, to record and save all the names of those who died in the Holocaust 55 years ago.
Overseas, Yad Vashem will work with its international societies to reach worldwide Jewish communities, assisted by the Foreign Ministry, B’nai B’rith International, the Israel Public Council for Soviet Jewry, the World Jewish Congress and WZO.
Pages of Testimony can also be downloaded from Yad Vashem’s website (www.yadvashem.org.il).
The Israeli campaign will be conducted with the cooperation of the Education Ministry, survivors’ organizations, community centers, the army, the Union of Local Authorities and local media. Educational materials will also be distributed in high schools.
(Above articles are taken from The Jerusalem Post.)
The U.S. Blasts Attack on Jewish Leader in Moscow
(Taken from COMTEX Newswire)
The U.S. administration has denounced an attack on the director of the Jewish Cultural Center, Leopold Kaimovsky at Moscow’s Choral Synagogue. A statement by James Rubin, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, stating that the U.S. had denounced ‘that cowardly act of terror.’ The statement stressed that anti-Semitism, religious and racial intolerance as well as similar acts of terror are inadmissible and should have no place in a democratic society. Rubin wished Kaimovsky an early recovery. A Young man identified as a neo-Nazi stabbed the Jewish leader several times in the stomach and arms.
In Brief – Treadmills in Security Zone
(Taken from Israel Wire)
The IDF has introduced treadmills in outposts in the security zone of southern Lebanon to permit soldiers to maintain their physical fitness. In past years, soldiers would workout outside of the outposts to maintain their physical fitness, but this is no longer permitted as a result of increased Hizbullah activities.