November 29, 2007
Briefs: Israel unveils record-breaking flag, ‘Righteous Gentile’ joins Polish government
An Israeli flag the size of two football fields was unveiled near Masada on Monday as part of a campaign by the Ministry of Tourism ahead of next year's 60th Independence Day.
The flag was donated by Sister Grace Galindez-Gupana, a pro-Zionist businesswoman from the Philippines. The tourism ministry said it was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest flag.
"The Israeli flag is the Zionist symbol of independence of the people of Israel and the State of Israel, and I thank Sister Grace, who in this moving gesture is giving us the opportunity to take pride in our independence of 60 years," Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said. "I hope that tourists from around the world will endeavor as Sister Grace is in advancing tourism between all peoples."
The flag measures 2,200-by-300 feet and weighs 5.2 tons. It took a 48-person design team three weeks to manufacture.
Israeli Chabad Leaders Arrested
Israeli police arrested the leader of the Young Chabad movement. Yosef Aharonov and three others are accused of embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering. The arrests and a Nov. 13 raid on the community of Kfar Chabad follow an eight-month investigation by the Israel Tax Authority and the Central District Fraud Squad.
Arkady Gaydamak, an Israeli Russian billionaire and a potential Jerusalem mayoral candidate, is accused of donating $256,000 to the money-laundering facilities allegedly run out of Kfar Chabad, according to Israel's Channel 10. He and other prominent businessmen are currently under investigation.
Young Chabad, also known as Lubavitch Youth, is a nonprofit organization and one of the more prominent Chabad institutions in Israel. It has a budget of about $7.7 million a year, including allocations from the Israeli government.
Yosef George Segal, a Chabad employee who was accused more than a year ago by Young Chabad officials of embezzling $4.5 million from the organization, also was arrested.
"Like Chabad-Lubavitch offices everywhere, the Chabad Youth Organization in Israel is fiscally independent. However, its noble social service programs and educational outreach are legendary and a source of pride to the Jewish people everywhere," read a statement from the umbrella organization of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement. "Clearly, every individual is instructed by the Torah to uphold the laws of his/her land, and this is, of course, a basic principle of Chabad Lubavitch operations. We are confident, therefore, that the authorities will receive full cooperation in their efforts and that, ultimately, the results will be satisfactory."
'Righteous Gentile' Joins Polish Government
An Auschwitz survivor and "righteous gentile" was named to the Polish government. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 85, is the new secretary of state responsible for Poland's relations with Germany, Russia and Israel.
Bartoszewski, who has been foreign minister of Poland twice since the end of communism, spearheaded the anti-Nazi underground government's aid to Jews during World War II. He has been recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Museum and Memorial in Jerusalem. He joins the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a centrist politician who defeated his more conservative rival, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
Relations with Israel were largely positive during Kaczynski's term, with Poland as a fierce defender of Israeli interests in the European Union. Relations with Germany, however, dramatically declined as the former prime minister repeatedly invoked Germany's Nazi past. Relations with Russia were equally poor, with both countries carrying old grudges in their economic and political disputes.
British Lawmaker Quits Oxford Over Irving
A British lawmaker renounced his membership to the Oxford debating society in protest of an appearance by David Irving. Julian Lewis, the shadow defense minister and a Conservative member of Parliament, turned in his 37-year-old membership to the Oxford Union, where Irving and Nick Griffin, head of the extreme right British National Party, were to discuss the topic of free speech Monday.
Irving, a British amateur historian who repeatedly has questioned accepted facts about the Holocaust, was convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria last year based on a speech in which he cast doubt on the existence of concentration camp gas chambers.
British Defense Secretary Des Browne, television anchor June Sarpong, Labor Parliament member Austin Mitchell and other prominent Britons have canceled future engagements at the Oxford Union in reaction to the decision by students to give a platform to Irving and Griffin, who many consider racist.
Denis MacShane, another Labor member of Parliament, told the British media that Monday's speeches "will be a festival of anti-Semitism."
But Luke Tryl, the union's president, told The Daily Telegraph that his aim was to defeat fascism with "liberal, informed debate. "I believe their own publicity will destroy them -- they will implode," Tryl is quoted as saying.
In a poll, 1,062 students voted to support the invitations extended to Irving and Griffin, with 640 voting against.
Israel Seen 'Surviving' Iran Nuke War
A nuclear war between Israel and Iran would be mutually devastating, but Israel might survive as a state, a study found.
Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies published a paper this month analyzing how the sides would fare in a theoretical nuclear war in the next decade. According to "Iran, Israel and Nuclear War," the superiority of Israel's assumed atomic arsenal would offset the disadvantages of its tiny territory.
Iran's nuclear strikes would likely target the greater Tel Aviv area and Haifa, killing 200,000 to 800,000 people outright, Cordesman wrote. But he added that for Israel, recovery would be "theoretically possible in population and economic terms." By contrast, Israeli nuclear attacks on Iran would kill between 16 million and 28 million, making recovery "not possible in the normal sense of the term."
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.