~ chpponline - As you read "pray the news"
by - Ezra HaLevi
19:18 Dec 02, '06 / 11 Kislev 5767
The heads of Iran and the Palestinian Authority met Friday for the first time. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assured the Hamas leader that Israel’s demise is within reach.
Ahmadinejad met with Hamas Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar Friday.
Ahmadinejad, who is pursuing nuclear capabilities at breakneck speed, assured Haniyeh that Israel is "on the verge of disappearing," according to Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
"As everybody knows, the Zionist regime was created to establish dominion of arrogant states over the region and to enable the enemy to penetrate the heart Muslim land," Ahmadinejad explained, reiterating a theory he has outlined in public forums ever since he came to power.
Haniyeh, whose Islamist Hamas group enjoys much financial and logistical support from Iran, thanked Ahmadinejad for the assistance. "The Iranian nation's brilliant stand in the rightful battles of the Palestinians encourages them and signifies their deep understanding of Islamic principles," IRNA quoted him as saying Saturday. "The Intifada of the Palestinian nation will continue until the cause of the Palestinians is materialized and Jerusalem is liberated."
Ahmadinejad assured Haniyeh that Israel’s destruction is no longer a dream, but well within reach. "Today, scores of Western politicians are in doubt as to the future of this illegitimate regime and its existence has come under question. There is no doubt the Palestinian nation and Muslims as a whole will emerge victorious," he said.
On Friday, Ahmadinejad, Haniyeh and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad joined Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Kuwait's Prime Minister Nasser al-Hamad Al Sabah at the opening ceremony of the 15th Asian Games.
Hamas chief Haniyeh was the only visitor to the games received at Qatar’s airport by the country’s Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, according to Qatar’s news agency.
Shekel Becomes Safe Haven for Dollars
13:00 Dec 01, '06 / 10 Kislev 5767
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Four years ago, a dollar cost five shekels and everyone hoarded greenbacks. Today a dollar costs 4.24 shekels, leaving many American olim wishing they had put their money where their feet are.
American olim, the Hebrew word for immigrants, who held on to their dollar bills the past three years will have lost 15 percent of their money if they convert the dollars to shekels today.
The dollar traded Friday morning as low as 4.233 shekels, the lowest it has been for five years. The year-long long and steady strengthening of the shekel symbolizes the new Israel, an economy of near-zero inflation, a robust economy and a growing reputation among the international financial community as one of the most stable economies in the world.
The stronger shekel is a boon for renters and buyers because the long-time trust in the dollar steered Israelis to quote everything in dollars. A $500 a month apartment costs five percent less in shekels than it did six months ago.
Today, businessmen and consumers see the other side of the coin and the shekel is becoming the more common base for transactions.
The past, of course, is no guarantee of the future, and many financial advisors think the shekel is overvalued. One financial web site wrote on Friday, "While we in the beginning of the year where quite bullish on shekel we are now increasingly of the view that the shekel will weaken."
Their analysis is based on the prediction that the American interest rate will rise, contrary to most expectations that it will drop in early 2007. One of the advantages of the shekel is that the interest rate in Israel has been the same or even higher than that of the dollar, attracting foreigners to invest in the Israel currency and earn a higher income.
Another factor working against the dollar is the increasing flight from the American currency throughout the world. The shekel's strength has been aided by the dollar's weakness, whereas the shekel continues to lose value against the Euro.
Israel today is a far cry from the days of 500 per cent a year inflation of the 1980s, when shop owners marked up their prices every day.
Sweeping economic reforms and changes in the financial policy have turned the Israeli economy around. The most flattering result was this year's $4 billion buy-out of the Iscar metal working company by American billionaire Warren Buffet. He bought the Galilee-based community only months before the Hizbullah terrorist war broke out.
The ability of the economy to absorb the shock of the war and return to a growth rate of more than four percent is another sign to investors that the shekel is the best place to put money.
The constant instability of the Middle East has had virtually no effect on the shekel or the economy, and the government even has massed an enormous and little publicized budget surplus of more than $2 billion. American President George W. Bush recently asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert how Israel manages to avoid deficits, which two years ago were a constant and growing concern.
The government has made windfall profits from the tax on fuel, which has soared in the past year until it peaked in the late summer. Every time fuel pump prices were raised, the government's take rose proportionately.
Another large source of the surplus has been a drastic cut in outlays for child stipends following the sweeping reforms initiated by former Likud Finance Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. The child support benefits for years have been a way to support a needed rise in the Jewish population. However, in the past few years it has been used by Arab families, especially in the Bedouin community, to fund their lifestyle of polygamy, which often results in dozens of children per family.
Hizbullah Vows to Topple Lebanon’s Government
Lebanese mourners carry flags and placards and gather in Martyrs' square before funeral of assassinated Christian politician Pierre Gemayel in Beirut.
13:29 Dec 01, '06 / 10 Kislev 5767
(IsraelNN.com) Hizbullah Deputy Chief Naim Kassam released a statement on Friday vowing to continue protests in Beirut until they succeed in ousting the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
The terror organization has called on the masses to take to the streets in protests on Friday demanding the formation of a coalition government.
Almost 300 Attacks on Israel in November
18:40 Dec 03, '06 / 12 Kislev 5767. Arutzsheva
(IsraelNN.com) Arab terrorists attacked Israel 287 times, including 157 rocket attacks, in November, according to statistics compiled by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies.
The numbers were the second highest since the demolition of Jewish communities and the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza region last summer.
Forty-seven Israelis suffered injuries, and three were killed by enemy attacks, the highest number since July. PLEASE READ
A Reminder: amidst all the pain ... "pray the news"
Administrative Orders Throw Yet Another Jew Out of Home
16:10 Dec 03, '06 / 12 Kislev 5767
by Hillel Fendel, Arutzsheva
Newly-married Akiva Liebowitz has been served with orders - without explanation - keeping him away from his home in Yitzhar for three months, or else spend the time in jail.
At a demonstration last night in protest of 20 other similar orders handed down in the past weeks and months, police arrested several demonstrators - among them popular author, Torah scholar and counselor Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv. The rally was held outside the Givat Shmuel home of IDF Central Commander Gen. Yair Naveh, who signed the orders.
The protestors held signs reading, for example, "No to Administrative Orders! The Settlers are not the Enemy!" and "They're Expelling Jews Again."
Several others were also arrested, among them Noam Federman of Hevron, but for Rabbi Yaniv, the arrest might have greater significance: He has been arrested in the past for a similar "offense" - taking part in a demonstration against political moves by the government. "I was put on probation last time," he said, "so there might be worse repercussions this time. But the worst that could happen is jail - and it certainly won't be as bad as when Joseph [in the Bible] was thrown into the dungeon; I will have a bed, and a place to learn..."
Over the past few months, some 20 young residents of the Shomron abruptly received military orders preventing them from living in their homes. No reasons were given, and the General Security Service says the "evidence" against them is too secret and potentially dangerous to be publicized to anyone.
The Land of Israel Legal Forum, which recently filed a suit in the Supreme Court on behalf of one of the 20, said the orders "restricting the freedom of an Israeli citizen as an administrative measure" are illegal in that they may be handed down only by virtue of a Knesset law - and not by order of the IDF Commander of the Central District.
The Forum claims that "whenever the government finds itself in a dead end security-wise, diplomatically and/or internationally," the Jewish settlers of Judea and Samaria become the national "punching bag" and bear the brunt of "new, sudden plans to evacuate and destroy outposts and issue exaggeratedly-restrictive orders."
Banned From Home
The orders keeping the young men are generally for between three and six months. Some of the men have families with up to five children, and some have no relatives outside Yesha. At least one has chosen to remain in prison rather than to give in to what he feels is the country's "arbitrary justice."
The orders of one of the 20 were recently reduced somewhat: Ariel Gruner, married with one child, who had been restricted to house arrest in the secular community of Rotem in the Jordan Valley, is now permitted to leave Rotem - but for the next three months, may still not return to Judea and Samaria.
Supporters of the 20 were slightly heartened to find that Gruner's orders were reduced in severity - but the news of the 21st detainee, Akiva Liebowitz, has brought them once again to the realization that the struggle is by no means over.
Liebowitz's brother Elazar was killed, in July 2002, in a Palestinian terrorist roadside shooting attack south of Hevron. Seconds later, the terrorists also murdered Rabbi Yossi and Chana Dickstein, and their ten-year-old son Shuva-el, leaving nine orphans behind. Last week, the Dicksteins' oldest son Tzvi Yehuda celebrated the brit (ritual circumcision) of his first-born son, who received the name of his paternal grandfather.
"Put Them on Trial!"
No evidence or charges have been presented against at least 17 of the 21, and they have no way of defending themselves or protesting their innocence. MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who has initiated Knesset sessions on the issue, explained,
"The issue at hand is the distancing of Israeli citizens without trial. In recent weeks, the State Prosecution, with the recommendation of the security framework, decided to exile 20 men from their homes, to separate them from their families, to keep them from their jobs, and cause them totally unreasonable damage. The investigative body thus becomes the accuser, the judge, and even the one that carries out its own judgment. Truly democracy at its best...
"[The police] should investigate them, put them on trial, keep them in jail until the end of the proceedings if the court approves it, and sentence them to jail if appropriate. But no one [else] may become a judge over Israeli citizens."
Opponents of the administrative orders call upon those who are concerned to express their opinion to Defense Minister Peretz [fax: (0)2-649-6545] and Prime Minister Olmert [fax: (0)2-670-5475]
Security Cabinet Backs Olmert´s ´Hold Fire´ Strategy
18:19 Dec 03, '06 / 12 Kislev 5767
(IsraelNN.com) The Security Cabinet overruled security officials and Defense Minister Amir Peretz Sunday night and backed a government strategy that bars operating against Arab terrorists who continue to break the Gaza ceasefire. The decision came several hour after a Kassam attack on the western Negev, a continuation of what Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev (National Union) called "a ceasefire between rocket strikes."
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni backed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's called for not responding to enemy fire, and both of them stated that holding fire is part of a policy of "acting wisely." Foreign Minister Livni explained that the government knew ahead of time that the truce would be fragile. She added that the western Negev also was under attack from rockets before the ceasefire and therefore the latest strikes are not a reason to retaliate.
However, both leaders accepted security officials' opposition to extending the ceasefire to Judea and Samaria. Army Radio reported that government sources criticized IDF officers for expressing their opinions outside of the Cabinet discussions.
From: Daniel [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 03, 2006 12:33 PM
Subject: Israel Update