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Briefs: Hebron settlers removed, Olmert plans land swap, Romney backs off Hezbollah

August 9, 2007 | 8:00 pm

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.



Facebook Ads Pulled

At least six British companies pulled out of Facebook.com after their ads appeared on the pages of the right-wing British National Party. First Direct bank, mobile phone giant Vodafone, Virgin Media, the Automobile Association, Halifax Bank and the Prudential all have withdrawn their ads. The firms decided to pull their ads from the networking Web site after discovering their appearance on the pages of a political party long associated with anti-Semitic activity in Britain.

Virgin said it made the decision to "protect its brand."

First Direct spokesman Rob Skinner said, "We have got to make sure that the places we advertise are consistent with our own values and identity."

Facebook has declined to comment on the decisions. Though British National Party leaders deny their campaigns are anti-Semitic, in 1997, party leader Nick Griffin asserted in his pamphlet "Who are the Mindbenders?" that "very few people in Britain are aware of the huge influence over the mass media exercised by a certain ethnic minority, namely the Jews."

A Vodafone spokesperson said the company would resume advertising only when "more robust controls" were in place to specify where their ads would appear.

Ads on Facebook run on random rotation.



Romney Backs Away From Hezbollah Citation

Mitt Romney's campaign said Hezbollah was not a proper model for his vision of U.S. diplomacy, addressing a controversy arising from his earlier remarks. The statement from the campaign for the former Massachusetts governor, a front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy, came in the wake of a weekend town hall meeting in Iowa in which he cited Hezbollah's social network as a model for reaching hearts and minds.

"Gov. Romney believes that bloodthirsty terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas have smothered the progress of the people and nations where they have built their networks, Lebanon serving as an example," spokesman Kevin Madden said. "These terror organizations cannot and should not be allowed to gain an advantage with the citizenry in Muslim nations just because they mask their terror agenda with an offering of some vital services."

Romney had made the comparison in explaining why he would expand on President Bush's AIDS program in Africa, widely regarded as earning goodwill.

"Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools. And they built their support there by having done so," Romney said. "That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest toward modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world."

The National Jewish Democratic Council slammed Romney for those remarks.

"Any candidate for president should know that Hezbollah's social programs are inseparably tied to terrorism," it said.



Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency Tracker Pixel for Entry

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