Israel in the News Oct/Nov 1996

Swiss banks will re-examine Holocaust claims

(from The Jerusalem Post)

In a dramatic reversal, Swiss bankers have agreed to set up an independent commission with Jewish participation to determine what assets still in their banks belong to Holocaust victims.

Swiss Bankers Association Secretary General Jean Paul Chapuis told the World Jewish Congress that the commission will be authorized to retain an independent accounting firm and other experts as necessary to assist it in preparing its report.

Chapuis added that the association was “deeply concerned that this important issue be approached and concluded in a sensitive, equitable, open, accurate and professional manner.”

Israeli player drafted by LA Clippers

(from The Jerusalem Post)

Doron Sheffer became the first Israeli to be drafted by an NBA team recently. He was picked by the Los Angeles Clippers, the 36th player taken in the NBA draft. The selection of Sheffer in the second round marks a milestone for the former University of Connecticut and Hapoel Galil Elyon star. He is the first Israeli to have a legitimate shot at donning the threads of the world’s top basketball league.

The Bagel has landed

(from The Jerusalem Post)

Though it may be hard to believe, not so long ago, it was virtually impossible to find a decent bagel in all of the Jewish state. It was, however, very easy to find a round, doughy object commonly referred to as a “beigele.”

Such a creation generally came in two basic forms. The first was a jawbreakingly hard, narrow circle, coated with sesame seeds or salt, and found hanging on an iron bar at the local kiosk. The second version was a huge, wide, sweet and fluffy Arab-style round bread, particularly suited for the making of grilled cheese sandwiches known as “toast.”

In less than two years, no fewer than 16 bagel outlets have sprung up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the trend is promising to invade the rest of the country.

There is an inherent irony in the timing of the bagel’s entry into Israeli society. In the US, the bagel began as an identifiably Jewish food. Gradually, bagels made it out of the proverbial ghetto. Frozen bagels…brought the product out of the corner deli and into everyone’s home.

And herein lies the irony: The bagel had to be transformed from a Jewish food to an American food in order to make it attractive in the Jewish state. It is only after pizza, hamburgers, fried chicken and other American fast foods have proven themselves in the Israeli marketplace that the local entrepreneurs dared to invest into the bagel business.

Archaeologists discover Herod’s wine jug at Masada

(from Associated Press)

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 2,000-year-old clay wine jug inscribed with the name of King Herod, along with some of the first evidence of daily life at the Masada fortress during Herod’s time.

The Latin inscription says either “Herod, King of Judea” or “Herod, King of the Jews,” said archaeologist Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University. Netzer said it was the first time the full title of Herod, king of Judea from 37 B.C., until his death in 4 B.C., had been found in an inscription.

The jug, which dates from about 19 B.C., was found in an ancient garbage dump near the synagogue at Masada, Netzer said.

Netzer said most of the artifacts found previously were from the period when the zealots lived at Masada. The new artifacts give archaeologists a glimpse of life during the time of Herod.

Israeli satellite observes Jewish law

(from United Press International)

The Israeli Amos communications satellite, launched into space [in May], is following religious law when it comes to operations on the Sabbath and holy days, the Itim news agency reported recently.

This unusual phenomenon developed after religiously observant scientists who took part in the planning process insisted that the satellite’s main motor rest on the days specified in the Bible. The Jewish religious edict of rest and not performing work on these days includes a ban on the operation of electronic equipment.

Israeli ingenuity ends need for supercomputer

(from The Jerusalem Post)

Israel has virtually no need for the supercomputer the U.S. and Japan have refused to sell it now that scientists here have developed a next-generation multi-processor parallel device, according to the Hebrew University professor who headed the 10-year project.

Prof. Amnon Barak…said he and his team developed the “unique” computer operating system, based on algorithms, for use with ordinary workstations purchased at a computer store in Jerusalem. The cost of the project was $150,000, compared to $10 to $30 million for a supercomputer.

The US and Japan have refused to sell Israel a supercomputer due to their fear it would be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Palestinian views on peace process unchanged

(from The Jerusalem Post)

The first Palestinian poll since the election of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu indicates there has been little change in Palestinian attitudes toward the peace process. Support for continuing the process increased from 78% in a March poll…to 81% in its latest poll…. A December CPRS poll showed 40% thought a Palestinian state would be established within five years, while this poll indicated 44% felt an “acceptable solution” would be reached on Jerusalem, refugees, borders and settlements.

Algeria about to fall to fundamentalists

(from The Jerusalem Post)

Senior Israeli officials believe Algeria could fall to Islamic fundamentalists “any day.” Observers wonder if its fall will mean that other Arab countries such as Egypt, which has been battling fundamentalists, will be more hesitant in their dealings with Israel.

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