Israel in the News Jun/Jul 1999

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Peace with Syria would cost the Golan
As the United States moves to revive the stalled Israeli-Syrian peace talks, Defense Minister Moshe Arens said recently that the only way Damascus will make peace is if Israel withdraws from the entire Golan Heights. He is against paying that price.

“This is my position. There is no chance of reaching agreement with Syria without totally conceding the Golan Heights. I think that this is a price we should not pay. I don’t think the Syrians should be allowed to come down to the water line,” Arens told military reporters in his office.

Beauty knows no borders
Miss Israel, Rana Raslan, considers herself “completely Israeli,” even though she is Moslem.

“We all want peace. We’re all one nation and there’s no difference between Arabs and Jews,” she said at her first press conference after winning the beauty contest. “It doesn’t matter if I’m Arab or Jewish. We must show the world that we can live together.”

She refused to discuss politics, saying, “There are people who understand politics better than me. I’m a beauty queen, not a political queen.”

She also refused to say more than a few sentences in English, “because the people of Israel want to hear how I speak in Hebrew, not English,” she said in fluent Hebrew.

Raslan and Miriam Oferman Mozes, editor of the magazine which sponsors the contest, both emphasized that her victory was not a political decision.…“I have been asked if this was a political decision.…This contest is about beauty, about personality, about a big heart, it has nothing to do with politics,” Mozes said, adding that since the first contest some 49 years ago, Arab-Israeli women have been welcome to compete.

However, Pnina Rosenblum, who was one of the judges, said she voted for Raslan to send a message to the Arab world. “It is the first time in Israeli history that an Israeli Arab has been chosen as beauty queen,” Rosenblum said. “The message is that we…want a true peace.”

Raslan, 21, of Haifa… studied at Carmel High School, and has been working as a make-up artist since. She intends to dedicate this year to her role as Miss Israel and assisting Variety, the organization for handicapped children.

California’s cause of the week: Ron Arad
Motorists traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway, skirting the ocean near Malibu, may be puzzled by an official state sign along the roadside bearing the legend, “ron arad—idf.”

Not many of the drivers will connect “IDF” to the Israel Defense Forces. Even fewer will identify Ron Arad as the Israel Air Force navigator shot down over Lebanon in 1986, whose fate is still unknown.

The man behind the campaign to find and free Arad is as unlikely as the sign. He is Mark “Moshe” Hardie, a 27-year-old African-American lawyer who converted to Judaism—Orthodox style—and has become one of the most fervent champions of Israel in Los Angeles.

With characteristic fervor, Hardie says, “Ron’s freedom is our freedom.…If Hashem [God] could free me from a violent ghetto youth, then Hashem can also free Ron Arad.”

Downtown Jerusalem store opens on Shabbat
Haredi [religious] and secular demonstrators gathered on a recent Saturday afternoon in front of Jerusalem’s Drugstore 2000, which was open in the center of town for the first time on Shabbat [the Sabbath].

The new store, which also sells foods such as meats and vegetables, opened despite a number of telephone threats from haredim [ultra-Orthodox].

“The time has come to break the haredi grip” on Jerusalem, one of the store’s owners, Moshe Abergil said, as a heredi chanted “Shabbes” [Sabbath] and tried to enter the store.

Throughout the day, secular Israelis, including left-wing politicians, streamed into the store, some to sneak a peak, some to make a political statement, and some just to pick up a loaf of bread. Dozens milled around the store’s entrance, arguing with the haredi demonstrators about the role of religion.

Names of victims go to Swiss commission
Over one million names of Holocaust victims have been sent to the Volcker Commission to help in its investigation into dormant Swiss bank accounts, Yad Vashem said recently. The commission, headed by the former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, will cross-index the computerized list with the names of Swiss bank account holders, in order to locate those accounts belonging to Holocaust victims.

PA plans to build second airport
Having opened the Gaza International Airport last November, the Palestinian Authority now has plans to open a second, smaller airport in Bethlehem before the year 2000. The facility would accommodate some of the three million pilgrims expected to travel to Bethlehem for the millennium.

Study shows Dead Sea good for heart patients
Although the salty body of water is called the Dead Sea, it has a life-giving effect on heart patients.

Spending time at the lowest point on earth has now been proven to have beneficial influences, increasing the supply of oxygen to the heart muscle and reducing its oxygen requirements.

Because of the low altitude, high barometric pressure, oxygen-enriched atmosphere and unique mineral content of the water, patients who have undergone a heart attack or heart surgery are able to exert themselves significantly more than in other environments.

An article by a Bnai Zion Hospital cardiologist, which will soon appear in the American Journal of Cardiology, states that heart patients were able to exercise an average of 15% longer during a five-day visit to the Dead Sea than when they were tested at the Haifa government hospital.

(All articles are taken from The Jerusalem Post.)

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