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The Lekarev Report Israel News August 14, 2008

13 Av 5768
August 14, 2008
bush.jpgTensions Between Russia and US Escalate

United States President George W. Bush expressed American concerns yesterday that Russia was violating the truce agreement with Georgia and called on Moscow to honor its commitments.

A short while later, Russia's foreign minister responded by saying that the US had to choose between partnership with Moscow or with the Georgian leadership, which he described as a "virtual project."

"We understand that this current Georgian leadership is a special project of the United States, but one day the United States will have to choose between defending its prestige over a virtual project or real partnership which requires joint action," Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

In his address, President Bush said Russia's ongoing action raised serious questions about its intentions in Georgia and the region.  Citing reports about Russian ceasefire violations, Bush said: "With these concerns in mind, I have directed a series of steps to demonstrate our solidarity with the Georgian people and bring about a peaceful resolution to this conflict."
The president made it clear that "The United States of America stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia. We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected."

georgia03.jpgEarlier Wednesday, Russian forces bombed and looted the crossroads city of Gori on in a clear violation of a French-brokered truce.

This convoy was later seen rolling out of Gori and deeper into Georgia.  Several dozens of Russian military trucks and armored vehicles sped out of Gori and were seen heading in the direction of the Georgian capital.

jetb.jpgMore Immigration from Georgia to Israel

One day after 537 Israelis, Georgian Jews and new immigrants were airlifted out of Georgia, the small Israeli embassy there began focusing on processing additional immigration applications.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy said that after the frantic day on Tuesday, when the embassy orchestrated the hectic evacuation of Israelis and Jews in Tbilisi,  yesterday the bulk of the work there had to do with the day-to-day functions of the embassy and processing new immigration papers.

He said that all the Israelis who wanted to leave the country had been flown out.
Some 30 Georgian Jews, who opened immigration files on Friday when the fighting began, arrived on the three different flights Tuesday, and another 70 Jews have started the immigration procedure in the Georgian capital.

Jewish Agency spokesman Michael Jankelowitz said the impression he gained from conversations with the Georgians who arrived on Tuesday was that there would be a large-scale aliya now from that country.

An official from Nativ, the organization that processes immigration in the Former Soviet Union, as well as two additional Foreign Ministry officials will remain in Tbilisi for a few days to process the expected increase in immigration applications.

bordersyria.jpgRare Violence at Syrian Border 

IDF forces shot and wounded an armed man who crossed from Syria into the Golan Heights on Wednesday. 

Violence along the Israeli-Syrian border is rare and the IDF said the incident was reported to United Nations forces in the area. 

An army spokesman said it was not immediately clear why the man entered the Golan. Troops shot at the man because he was carrying a gun, the spokesman said. The infiltrator was lightly wounded in the incident and was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. 

About a month ago, IDF forces killed a Syrian man who arrived at the border fence in the northern Golan Heights in order to carry out a drug deal. Another man at the scene was also shot and wounded.
250px-montefiorewindmill.jpgHistoric Windmill to Produce Flour Again

Many of you have seen it on your trips to Israel.  Now, the historic windmill built by Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Haim Montefiore in 1857 in Jerusalem's Yemin Moshe neighborhood will produce flour once again. 

Renovation of the windmill, one of modern Jerusalem's symbols, was made possible by a contribution of a half a million dollars given by a Jewish American donor to the Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski.
The windmill was built in the mid 19th century in order to supply flour to the inhabitants of Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the first Jewish neighborhood to be built outside the walls of the Old City.   It was built according to an English model and was initially operated by experts sent especially from London by Montefiore. 
With the introduction of steam-powered flour mills a short time later, use of the windmill was halted.

After 151 years, the Jerusalem municipality is presently planning to restart its work on the windmill which will serve as a tourist attraction.  It will be connected to electricity mains since nowadays the wind that blows in the area is not sufficient for moving its blades and spinning the millstones.

walid20bek.jpgShock Waves as Jumblatt Yields to Hizbollah
The fervently pro-US, pro-Israeli Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, has decided to hold out no longer. He has thrown in his lot with the most extreme pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian, anti-Israel force in Lebanon, the Shiite Hizballah, which has gained veto power over the government in Beirut unopposed.

Very quietly this past weekend, Jumblatt signed a "defense cooperation pact" with Hassan Nasrallah, affording Hizballah a strong foothold in the Lebanese Druze bastion of Mt. Chouf.

Drawing the hostile noose around northern Israel ever tighter, Lebanese president Michel Suleiman was in Damascus yesterday, Aug. 13, to celebrate the thaw in relations between the two countries.

Neither Israeli ministers, preoccupied with who will replace Ehud Olmert, nor the United States in the dying days of the Bush presidency, have lifted a finger to block Lebanon's rapid slide into the Iranian-Syrian orbit.  There will most likely be a day in the not too distant future that both Israel and the US will regret not doing so.

Jumblatt, after watching pro-Western strategic positions crumble in his country, chose to join forces with Hizballah in order to shield his ancestral mountain domain from Syrian domination.

The Druze and Hizballah militias agreed to set up a joint commission for coordinating military operations. Hizballah is represented by its security and intelligence commander, Wafiq Shafa (who was in change of the recent prisoner swap with Israel) and the Druzes by Akram Shahaib.

The joint security patrols for the Druze communities of the Chouf, will also give Hizballah a military presence on its third strategic Lebanese peak, after Mt. Sannine and Jebel Barukh.
Olmert Offers to Absorb 20,000 Arabs

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has proposed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the "shelf agreement" the two sides are working on include an agreement for Israel to take in Palestinian refugees as part of "family unification."   Olmert offered to absorb some 2000 Arabs per year over the next 10 years.

Their absorption would depend on all the other issues being resolved first, and on the Palestinians agreeing that there would not be a "right of return" to Israel and that most refugees would be absorbed in the future Palestinian state.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is conducting parallel talks with the Palestinians' chief negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, is opposed to Israel's taking in any Palestinian refugees, and also refuses accepting them on the basis of family reunification.

Livni told U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit to Israel last January that allowing any refugees into Israel would set a dangerous precedent.

"It's like in a thriller, where you see the heroine open the door a crack and you know that the man with the knife is going to come in and stab her," Livni told Bush.

In her opinion, Israel must not compromise on letting in refugees, because that would be interpreted as an opening to exercising the "right of return." 
110.jpgWelcome Home to 250 New Israelis!

More than 2000 Israelis gathered at Ben Gurion airport early yesterday morning to welcome 250 new immigrants from the United States and Canada. 

Among them were 43 young people, boys and girls, from the U.S. who came on Aliya with the deliberate intent to join the IDF.  They will immediately begin a four month program of orientation and preparation after which they will be inducted into the Army. Pictured here are two cousins from New York who came together to serve Israel as IDF soldiers and to build their lives here.

112.jpgAmong the 43 was Elan Bielski, who arrived in Israel to enlist in the IDF nearly 70 years after his notable grandfather, Alexander Bielski, fought the Nazis from a partisan hideout in the Belorussian forest.  Elan said his grandfather was a major factor in his decision to come and enlist.

"The thought of my grandfather certainly motivates me," Bielski said on Wednesday, hours after landing at Ben-Gurion Airport. "The way he fought to protect his family and his people, I can't compare it to myself, but it does inspire me."

The atmosphere was electric with excitement as the first bus, bringing the new olim from the plane to the terminal, approached the entrance.  Spontaneous singing and dancing broke out as the immigrants exited the bus to be received with hugs and smiles, and in some case, tears, by the family and friends awaiting them. 

114.jpgAmong the group were three elderly women in wheelchairs, the oldest being 96!  A group of young women gathered around the three wheelchairs and began to dance and sing around the three.  Soon many others joined in and our newest elderly immigrants enjoyed it all immensely.

The youngest new Israeli was just four months old, a happy baby boy despite the long flight from New York.

This arrival was Nefesh B'Nefesh's 34th Aliya flight and to date, they have brought 16,000 new immigrants to Israel, an impressive achievement.  Their goal is to bring 100,000 Jews home to Israel and while beginning in the USA, they have expanded their work to Canada and England.

117.jpgForeign Minister Tzipi Livni addressed the new immigrants, welcoming them, and in particular singling out the 43 young people who came on Aliya to join the IDF.  Livni made note that another flight also arrived this morning at Ben Gurion carrying Jews from Georgia who have come to Israel to flee the war with Russia and to make Israel their home.

Finally, I want to offer once again a very warm welcome to the Stevens Family from Arkansas.  It was my joy to be there to greet them and welcome them to Israel.  Their seven children did amazingly well on the long flight and as you can see from this photo, they are quite happy to be home in Israel.

May Hashem grant them and all our new citizens a successful transition into Israeli life and abundant blessings for fulfilling the scriptural mandate to "take possession" of the Land Hashem gave us.

Shalom and blessings,

Shalom For thus said Hashem: Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout at the head of the nations; declare, praise, and say: 'O L-rd, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.' Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one in labor with child together; a great company shall they return.
Jeremiah 31:7-8 
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