SWI NEWS: 3 Shvat 5769, Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Olmert: Opening crossings tied to progress in Shalit case

Prime minister meets with US special envoy to Mideast, says significant headway in negotiations for return of kidnapped IDF soldier prerequisite for reopening Gaza crossings  
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Wednesday afternoon with George Mitchell, the US special envoy to Mideast. Olmert told Mitchell that opening the Gaza crossings was a decision tied in with any progress made in kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's case.  Olmert stressed that until actual headway in Shalit's case was made, the crossings would remain open for humanitarian aid transports only.  The future opening of the crossings, added Olmert, also depends on the Gaza ceasefire proving stable and the cessation of all terror activities.  Mitchell reinforced US President Barak Obama's statements that the US is committed to the security of Israel and will make good on its pledge to establish two states for two nations.  Mitchell told reporters that his meeting with the prime minister focused on the crucial need to solidify the armistice in the Strip, including halting all terror attacks and arms smugglings, and the opening of the crossings in accordance to the agreement reached in 2005.

Wiesel. Popes actions 'disturbing'

Rabbinate cuts ties with Vatican

Chief Rabbinate of Israel cuts ties with Vatican over pardon of Holocaust denier until apology is made, Vatican's position clarified. Survivor Eli Wiesel also comes out against pontiff's pardon of known Holocaust denying bishop, says slight may even have been 'intentional.' Pope reaffirms 'solidarity' with Jewish people  
The chief Rabbinate of Israel sent a letter to the Vatican saying that dialogue with Catholics could not continue as before "without a public apology from Bishop Williamson and recanting his deplorable statements".  The Rabbinate said it would not attend a meeting scheduled for March "until this matter is clarified". Chief Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said he hoped the pope's words at the audience would be "sufficient to respond to the doubts expressed about the position of the pope and the Catholic Church" on the Holocaust.   Lombardi said he hoped the Israeli Rabbinate would now rethink its position and continue "fruitful and serene dialogue".     British-born Richard Williamson, one of four traditionalist bishops whose excommunications were lifted on Saturday, has made several statements denying the full extent of the Holocaust of European Jews, as accepted by mainstream historians.   Williamson told Swedish television: "I believe there were no gas chambers" and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million. His comments caused an uproar among Jewish leaders and progressive Catholics, many of whom said it had cast a dark shadow over 50 years of Christian-Jewish dialogue.   Pope Benedict has given credence to "the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism" by rehabilitating a Holocaust-denying bishop, said Elie Wiesel, the death camp survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner.   In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Wiesel also said there was no way the Vatican could have not known about the bishop's past and it may have been done "intentionally".   "What does the pope think we feel when he did that? That a man who is a bishop and Holocaust denier - and today of course the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism is Holocaust denial - and for the pope to go that far and do what he did, knowing what he knows, is disturbing," Wiesel said by phone from New York.   "The result of this move is very simple: to give credence to a man who is a Holocaust denier, which means that the sensitivity to us as Jews is not what it should be," he said late on Tuesday.    "It's a pity because Jewish-Catholic relations, thanks to John XXIII and John Paul II, had never been as good, never in history," Wiesel said, referring to the popes who revolutionized relations with Jews after 2,000 years of persecution and mistrust.  

Vatican 'had to know'

Asked if he believed it was possible that the Vatican did not know that Williamson was a Holocaust denier, Wiesel, who won the Nobel in 1986 and survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald, said, "Oh no! The Church knows what it does, especially on that level for the pope to readmit this man, they know what they are doing. They know what they are doing and they did it intentionally. What the intention was, I don't know."   Since the fury over the pope's decision to lift the excommunication, the Vatican has condemned Williamson's comments as "grave, upsetting (and) unacceptable", restating the Church's -- and Benedict's -- teachings against anti-Semitism.   Wiesel said he could not offer the Vatican any advice on how to put things right with Jews but something had to be done.   On Tuesday, Williamson's superior in the traditionalist movement publicly apologised to the pope and said William had been disciplined and ordered to remain silent on political or historical issues.   Pope Benedict on Wednesday reaffirmed his "full and unquestionable solidarity with Jews" in an attempt to relieve tensions with Jews after a Catholic bishop denied the Holocaust.  Speaking at his Wednesday audience, the pope said the attempt to exterminate the Jews in the Holocaust should remain a warning for all people.

Israeli air force bombs Philadelphi corridor in three waves


January 28, 2009, 10:11 AM (GMT+02:00)

Israeli towns and communities within rocket and missile range of the Gaza Strip were on tense alert after the Israeli air force struck the Philadekphi corridor border tunnels before dawn Wednesday, Jan. 28. Punishment was promised Hamas after a large roadside bomb blew up an Israel border patrol jeep outside Gaza early Tuesday, killing one Israel soldier and injuring three, one seriously, one week into the Gaza ceasefire.

Several smuggling tunnels caved in under the aerial bombardment. This may not be the end of Israel's response. Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell is due in Jerusalem later Wednesday for his first visit. If Hamas goes back to firing rockets, he will land in the middle of another Gaza war.

Israel expels Venezuelan embassy staff The Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had expelled Venezuela's envoys in Tel Aviv in response to their country's severing of relations with Israel.
Venezuelan President Hugo...
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Photo: AP
Foreign Ministry official Lior Hayat said the Venezuelan head of mission, Roland Betancourt, and two colleagues were given until Friday to leave the country. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke off ties in protest at the IDF offensive in the Gaza Strip. "Due to the decision of Venezuela to cut relations with us a few weeks ago we told the Venezuelan charge d'affaires that he and his staff should leave Israel," Hayat said. "We told them they are declared persona non grata in Israel." Ties between Israel and Venezuela were already tense because of Chavez's friendly relations with Iran. Venezuela expelled Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Cohen and his staff from Caracas on Jan. 6 then formally broke off relations the following week. Venezuela's Foreign Ministry has said Caracas also plans to denounce Israel's military actions at the International Criminal Court.

U.N. President Skips Holocaust Memorial

CBNNews.com January 28, 2009
CBNNews.com - NEW YORK CITY - United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann chose not to attend the UN's International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday. American Jewish leaders attending the event threatened to walk out of the ceremony if Brockmann used the occasion for Israel-bashing.
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The UN president has earned a reputation for his frequent anti-Israel remarks from the podium, such as calling Israel an apartheid state. Earlier this year, Brockmann attempted to ban the Israeli envoy from speaking at the 60th anniversary marking the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Israeli Ambassador Professor Gabriella Shalev warned that she would not tolerate anti-Israel rhetoric, especially on Holocaust Remembrance Day. During her remarks, Shalev said the world must not "remain silent" about the Nazi genocide of six million Jews. "To remain silent and indifferent to the horrors of the Holocaust is probably the greatest sin of all, let alone denying it," Shalev said. "We have a responsibility to act against the forces of anti-Semitism, bigotry and racism in any form," she said.

Will Obama APOLOGIZE to Ahmadinejad?

This could get interesting.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Wednesday it would welcome President Barack Obama's offer of a change in U.S. policy provided it involved a withdrawal of U.S. troops from abroad and an apology for past "crimes" against Tehran.


I would point out -perhaps needlessly- to the reading and thinking public, that in eight years with Bush at the helm, we never saw this level of chutzpah from the Iranian maniac; it was completely out of the question to think that America might apologize to the "axis of evil."  In the Age of Obama, however, anything is possible. That's what keeps me up at night.

In other news, a "respected think tank" has predicted that Iran could have the ability to build a nuclear bomb by the end of next year. This is being reported widely in the UK, in Israel of course, and India -- but in America, only by FOX News and U.S. News & World Report (so far). 

BtB is not surprised to find that none of the four editorials in today's New York Times even mentions Iran. And their front page is too busy gushing over Obama's [near-$900 billion] stimulus plan -its promised "relief for jobless and states on health care" and the coming "flood of aid" in education- to bother with any silliness like Ahmadinejad's daring response to Obama or the progress of his nuclear weaponization program.

For anyone interested, on page A8 Clinton sees an opportunity for Iran to return to diplomacy. Readers of the New York Times must sleep a helluva lot better at night than I do.

Flags and banners are strewn about Sderot as the southern Israel town celebrates a much needed respite from rocket attacks following the Gaza war. (Netanel Doron)  


Published:  01.28.09, 15:37 / Israel Jewish Scene

Roni Sofer

Published:  01.28.09, 17:33 / Israel News

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