Israel in the News Mar/Apr 2004

Knesset creates Christian caucus
The growing alliance between Christians and Jews has prompted Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to create a Christian Allies Caucus to maintain that relationship and support it.

Said Knesset member Yuri Stern, “The time came to establish . . . a group of people, a particular institution that works on promoting Israeli-Christian relationships.” He addressed his remarks to listeners of “Janet Parshall’s America,” an American radio show that was broadcasting live from The Media Line studios in Jerusalem.

Stern, who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union, credited Christians with helping secure the freedom of former “refuseniks,” of which he was one.

Said Stern, “I felt very strongly that we should upgrade those contacts and we should create in our parliament a group of people that would work constantly on this line, on this media line, on this political line, cultural line in order both to help the Christian groups who are operating in this country or helping us from abroad to overcome the bureaucracies and red tape in our institutions.”

Stern said the Israeli public must understand that Christians are a “critical factor in our fight today.”

Egyptian song blames U.S. for 9/11
ARUTZ-7—An Egyptian singer who brought the Arab world the smash hit “Ana Bakra Isra’il” (“I Hate Israel”) now has another: “Kharittat Al-Tariq” (“Road Map”).

The new song says America purposely carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington “to make people think that Arabs and Muslims are terrorists and were behind that disaster. Now the U.S. can do what it pleases to the Arab world since everyone thinks they are to blame,” reported the Cairo Times.

The lyrics say, “Hey people, it was only a tower, and I swear by God that they are the ones who pulled it down.” The new hit song “gives voice to widespread views in the Egyptian street regarding the September 11 events” the Cairo Times said.

Bus protection in the works
Israelis are hoping to make their buses safer with a new device designed to keep suicide bombers at bay.

During the 40 months of Palestinian violence and terrorism, more than 900 Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks, about a third of them in suicide bombings involving buses.

CNSNews reported that a new anti-terror system—the only one of its kind in the world—would be able to detect explosives and lock out a terrorist. It was developed jointly by the Ha’argaz company, the Transportation Ministry and TAASIsrael Industries.

Said CNSNews, “The system includes an explosives-detection device at the front of the bus; a turnstile through which passengers enter but which can be locked by the driver to prevent entry of suspicious persons; a device to protect the driver and passengers in the front of the bus; another turnstile at the back of the bus to allow passengers to exit but to prevent bombers from entering; and a two-way communication system between the driver and the people outside waiting to board the bus.”

The system will be installed on five buses for starters, but could also be used to prevent terrorists from entering shopping malls, restaurants or other public areas.

Papal meeting produces unusual result
A recent meeting between Israel’s chief rabbis and Pope John Paul II to discuss anti-Semitism and terrorism produced unexpected fruit in another area.

Israel’s chief rabbis asked the pope to help free Israeli hostages held by Hezbollah, condemn terrorism, and grant them permission to search Vatican storerooms for the huge golden menorah that stood in the Second Temple, destroyed by Rome in A.D. 70.

The menorah, symbol of the modern State of Israel, was the most important Temple artifact after the Ark of the Covenant and is thought to be in Rome.

Some Orthodox Jews believe restoring the menorah and other holy vessels to Jerusalem would be the first step in rebuilding the Temple.

Although the meeting did not produce permission to search for the menorah, it had some unexpected results.

Said one of the rabbis, “I can tell you something that the rabbi of Warsaw told me just this week. He said that after we met, he received dozens of calls from Poles who wished to confess their role in killing Jews during the Holocaust. The rabbi rebuffed them, though, saying he wasn’t a priest for confession. But one man insisted and said he couldn’t sleep at night, and told him that at age 11, his uncle came from the front wearing an army uniform and wanted to show him how to shoot.

“So just for fun, he [the uncle] took 50 Jews and shot them on the spot. He, the 11-year-old, threw the bodies into some kind of hollow in the ground and covered them.

“For 62 years, he told no one, figuring that the Jews are not important. But when he saw on television how the pope received the chief rabbis with such honor, calling them ‘my older brothers’ in front of the whole world, he said he realized that he did a great sin, and he therefore called the rabbi and said he wants to show him the ‘burial’ spot, and that he wants to atone by helping bring them to proper Jewish burial. This is something that came directly out of our meeting.”

Arafat’s billions impoverish PA
ARUTZ-7—”Yasser Arafat is rich,” reports the New York Daily News, “but his Palestinian Authority (PA) is going broke.” Despite—or because of—Arafat’s wealth, PA Economy Minister Maher Masri is quoted as saying, “If this situation continues . . . we will not be able to provide salaries next month.”

The paper writes that though his people have grown poorer, Arafat himself has amassed a fortune estimated by Forbes at $300 million, putting him in sixth place on the list of richest world leaders. Israel says his real net worth exceeds $1 billion. Other analysts place the figure at closer to $3 billion.

The PA has received $6.5 billion in foreign aid over six years—yet Josh Block of the pro-Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) says the PA is broke. This, he says, is because Arafat has been lining his pockets—and those of terrorist organizations—with much of the aid money for years.

While nearly half the PA-area population is unemployed, Arafat’s wife and daughter live in Paris on a monthly allowance of $100,000. Arafat is said to own a $55-million cement firm that controls most of the PA cement market, to hold a 23 percent stake in a $28.5-million casino in Jericho, and to receive profits from all gasoline imported into the PA. His money is stored in several Swiss bank accounts.

CBS News reported that Arafat has investments in companies like a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, a Tunisian cell phone company, and venture capital funds in the United States and Cayman Islands.

Handheld PC monitors heart
An Israeli doctor has developed a way to use a small handheld computer to screen cardiovascular disease in a test that takes about five minutes and is considered more reliable than standard EKG stress tests.

The Biolapis heart monitor even allows the use of a blood pressure monitor while still providing an accurate, affordable, noninvasive way to obtain heart information and monitor risks.

The device, developed by Dr. Nitzan Yaniv, has won a silver medal in the medical category at the 52nd Global Exhibition for Technological Innovation in Belgium. “Every cardiologist who has seen this device is excited by its potential,” Yaniv said. It is being tested at the heart unit of Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva.

Collagen used for healing
ARUTZ-7—A novel wound dressing made of genetically engineered human collagen that will enable faster and improved healing of injuries has been developed by researchers at the Hebrew University Faculty of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem.

Collagen, a protein, is the major constituent of connective tissues—tendons, skin, bones, cartilage, blood-vessel walls, and membranes. Collagen fibers keep all the body’s organs and tissues in their correct functional structure.

Preliminary animal experiments with the new dressing have shown substantially faster and better healing, with rapid formation of new collagen fibers, than has been possible using older methods.

The company is now negotiating with investors for further development.

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