Israel in the News Jun/Jul 1998

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Israel Will Have Most Jews in Five Years
(from International Christian Embassy Report)
By 2003, Israel will finally have fulfilled the dreams of its founders when it overtakes the United States to become home to the largest number of Jews in the world. This according to the Institute of the World Jewish Congress, which is shortly to publish the new Jewish population statistics in its updated Jewish Communities of the World. Since the last survey …America’s Jewish population has decreased by 200,000, while Israel’s has grown by 300,000. Today, according to the Institute, there are around 700,000 more Jews living in the U.S. than in Israel. The WJC Institute puts today’s world Jewish population at 13.8 million. Fifty years ago, after the Holocaust, that number was estimated at 11 million.

The following eight countries have Jewish populations in excess of 200,000. Together they total 92 percent of the world’s 13.8 million Jews.

  • USA 5,600,000
  • Israel 4,900,000
  • France 600,000
  • Russia 450,000
  • Canada 360,000
  • Ukraine 310,000
  • UK 300,000
  • Argentina 230,000

Arafat vows to renew intifada if talks fail
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat…threatened a renewal of the intifada that would “cross out” the peace accords if negotiations fail.

He also said he would declare a Palestinian state next year regardless of the outcome of peace talks.

His statements drew sharp criticism from Israeli officials, who said they were in violation of the Oslo Accords.

“When Arafat says that if he doesn’t get what he wants…he will make an intifada, there is no better example of the fact that we have a long way to go before we reach real peace,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told business people in Tel Aviv.

“The threats of intifada and the establishment of a Palestinian state are themselves violations of the Oslo Agreement,” charged Netanyahu’s communications adviser David Bar-Illan.

EU wants bigger role in Mideast peace
The European Union is interested in playing a more active and influential role in the Middle East peace process, its president, Jacques Santer, said on a recent visit. The Foreign Ministry is attempting to persuade European leaders to adopt a more balanced stance toward Israel.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad said to have merged
Seeking to strengthen their position and portray a unified front, Palestinian officials recently announced the unification of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Ramadan Shallah, secretary of the Islamic Jihad movement in Damascus, announced the decision, claiming dialogue between the two movements had already started.

Evangelical Christians are major UJA donors
An Evangelical Christian group has been one of the leading contributors to the United Jewish Appeal in recent years, and its leader claims it has become the single largest donor in 1997.

According to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, director of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a Chicago-based organization, his group will turn over some $5 million to the UJA this year, almost totally from Evangelical Christians.

UJA officials confirmed that the group is currently the largest donor in Chicago, that it raised $2.5 million last year, then “promised to double it” this year.

Eckstein said his group had initially raised money to bring Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel, and is now involved in a project in conjunction with the Joint Distribution Committee to help feed and care for elderly Jews who chose to remain there.

“PA security forces operating in Jerusalem”
Palestinian security services have been operating on the Temple Mount and at other sites in Jerusalem under orders issued by the PA’s administrative center in suburban Abu Dis, according to a government document presumably originating with the General Security Service, obtained recently by The Jerusalem Post.

The document contends that all of the PA’s interlocking security organs maintain a constant presence in Jerusalem, and that their agents act as bodyguards for Islamic religious leaders and the “governor” of the Jerusalem district.

All branches of PA intelligence regularly function in the capital “to a greater or lesser extent.”

80 Jews spirited out of Iraq
Some 80 Jews left Iraq for Israel and Europe in a secret operation over the past five years, Israel TV reported recently. According to the report, only 57 Jews remain in Iraq.

The report said it took a good deal of money and good relations with the Iraqi leadership to get the Jews out. The emigrants then had to endure a difficult journey overland, because of the air embargo on Iraq. The majority of Jews went to the Netherlands and Britain, but a handful came to Israel.

Israeli software wins chess contest
Chess software created by two Israelis won the 15th annual personal computer chess championship in Paris recently, a tournament in which programs play each other. The winning software, an amateur program called “Junior” created by Shay Bushinsky and Amir Ban of Tel Aviv, scored 9.5 points out of a possible 11.

(All other articles are taken from The Jerusalem Post.)

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