August 9, 2007
Briefs: Hebron settlers removed, Olmert plans land swap, Romney backs off Hezbollah
Illegal Hebron Settlers Evicted
Israeli security forces evicted Jewish settlers who had taken over disputed properties in Hebron. Thousands of soldiers and police descended on the West Bank city Tuesday to remove two Israeli families squatting in abandoned apartments. The evictions met with resistance from settlers who pelted the security forces with stones. Four people were arrested and at least 30 injured, including several policemen. The settlers had argued that the properties, converted stalls in Hebron's wholesale market, had originally belonged to Jews. The city's Palestinian residents disputed that claim. Twelve soldiers who refused to take part in the evacuation Monday were court-martialed and sent to the stockade. Most of them will serve 28-day sentences.
Olmert Plans West Bank Land Swap
Ehud Olmert plans to offer the Palestinians a state on most of the West Bank, with land allotments from Israel to make up for Jewish settlement blocs Israel would annex, Ha'aretz reported. Tuesday's report said the Israeli prime minister wants to recognize the Palestinians' claim to all of the West Bank, but instead of giving up on Jewish settlements situated in the territory intends to offer the Palestinians land of equivalent size from within the Jewish state. This land could consist of Israeli Arab towns, an ethnic trade-off aimed at mollifying Olmert's rightist partners in the coalition government, the report said.
The prime minister's office denied the report, saying in a statement: "We would like to clarify that such a plan has not been considered, nor is it being raised for discussion in any forum."
The report, which followed Olmert's summit Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, stirred outrage among Israeli Arabs.
Terrorist Rocket Kills Gaza Children
Two Palestinian children were killed and another five injured Tuesday in the Gaza Strip by a Qassam rocket fired by terrorists that fell short of its target in Israel. The 8-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister died Tuesday after the rocket fell short of its Israeli target and landed in the town of Beit Lahiya. No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the incident.
Israelis Want Sudanese Deported
Most Israelis favor expelling illegal Sudanese migrants, a poll found. Forty-seven percent of Israelis back the Olmert government's decision to deport most of some 1,500 Sudanese who have crossed into the country illegally from Egypt over the past year, according to a survey published this week by the Jerusalem-based pollster, Keevoon. Thirty-nine percent of Israelis want the migrants to be allowed to stay, while 14 percent of respondents did not voice an opinion on the matter. Many of the Sudanese have asked Israel for asylum, claiming to be refugees from the Darfur genocide. But Israeli officials say this is the case for only a fraction of the migrants and that most of the Sudanese came to the country seeking work. The Keevoon poll had 500 respondents and a 4.5 percent margin of error.
Edwards, Obama question Saudi arms sale
John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said a proposed arms sale to Saudi Arabia was no substitute for diplomacy in advancing Middle East peace. The Bush administration this week announced a deal with Saudi Arabia and some of its Persian Gulf neighbors as part of a push to contain Iran and entice Arab nations into backing U.S. policies in Iraq and a renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The deal is reportedly worth $20 billion. Obama, like Edwards a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Israel's security was "paramount" in considering such a sale, and added: "We should not believe arms sales will be a replacement for the hard diplomatic slog we've got to go through in the region in order to not only stabilize Iraq, but to make sure Iran and Syria and other countries that historically have been hostile to us aren't getting stronger."
In an interview with the Associated Press, Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, said Saudi reluctance to back U.S. policy in Iraq and its failure to stop financial backing for terrorists made the sale suspect.
"Whether it's Iraq or terrorism, the Saudis have fallen way short of what they need to be doing," he said. "And the Bush administration's response is to sell them $20 billion worth of arms, which is short term and convenient and not what the United States should be doing."
Hitler Listened to Music by Jews
A newly discovered box of Hitler's phogograph records included music by Jewish composers or played by Jewish musicians. Kept in a box for 62 years in the attic of a dacha near Moscow, the collection of gramophone discs had been been taken from Hitler's Wilhelmstrasse bunker in Berlin by a Red Army reconnaissance officer, Capt. Lev Besymenski. Besymenski, who died this summer at the age of 86, was Jewish. After his death, his daughter, Alexandra, brought the box of some 100 LPs to Germany's Spiegel magazine.
Hitler's collection included works by the Russian composers Borodin, Rachmaninov and Mussorgski. In one of Hitler's albums, the famous Polish Jewish violinist Bronislaw Huberman played works by Tschaikovsky. This has surprised historians, since Huberman, who fled Vienna in 1937, a year before the Anschluss, had been declared an enemy of the Third Reich. Hitler wrote in "Mein Kampf" that Jewish art "never existed."
Alexandra Besymenski said her father had told her that in May 1945 he and his comrades had been dispatched to take an inventory of objects in Hitler's bunker and the chancellery, which lay in ruins. While others collected silverware engraved with the initials "AH," he took albums from Hitler's collection, which he found in numbered boxes, packed for delivery to the Eagle's Nest headquarters in Berchtesgarden. Besymenski said her father had explained that while he had played some of the records for friends in the early years after the war, he later decided to stow them away because he did not want to be considered a looter.
Jewish-Born Cardinal Lustiger Dies
Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish-born convert to Catholicism who became a top Vatican figure, has died. Lustiger, a former archbishop of Paris, succumbed to cancer at the age of 80, diocese officials said Sunday. The son of Polish Jewish refugees, Lustiger converted while hiding out in Catholic boarding schools during World War II. He was ordained in 1954 and went on to become cardinal, attaining one of the highest positions ever for a convert in the French Catholic Church. He was considered a mainstream Vatican thinker and frequently spoke out against anti-Semitism.
"France loses a great figure of our country's spiritual, moral, intellectual and religious life," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement.