US/World News

"In Brief" week ending July 27, 2012

Israel rehabilitating the Jordan River
( Israel will rehabilitate the Jordan River by returning 150 million cubic meters of water there per year, Reuters reported. “That way in 10 years, we will erase our debt [to nature],” Israeli Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said.
The biblical river currently contains just “five percent of what once flowed,” according to Ben Ari, one of the rehabilitation project’s leaders. Jordan River revival comes as Israel continues to bolster its water infrastructure. The country currently re-uses 75 percent of its wastewater, and by next year 85 percent of its drinking water is expected to come from desalination plants.

Gaza Christians fear forced conversions to Islam
( The Greek Orthodox Church in the Gaza Strip says that at least five Christians have recently been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. According to the Gatestone Institute, a non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank, Archbishop Alexios, the head of the Greek Church in the Gaza Strip, has come under fire from Muslim Palestinians and Hamas for speaking publicly about the issue. Islamic groups claim that those who converted to Islam did so voluntarily, and they released a video of a young Christian man declaring that he converted voluntarily to Islam as proof. However, the Christians in the area have accused a prominent Hamas man of organizing the kidnapping and forced conversion of a Christian woman and her three daughters. Recently, the 2,000-member Christian community in the Gaza Strip held a sit-in strike to protest the alleged forced conversions. They now fear Muslim reprisal and believe that no one from the global Christian community wants to help their cause. “We only hear voices telling us to stay where we are and to stop making too much noise… If they continue to turn a blind eye to our tragedy, in a few months there will be no Christians left in Palestine. Today it’s happening in the Gaza Strip, tomorrow it will take place in Bethlehem,” said a Christian man in Gaza City.

Sportcaster Bob Costas to recognize slain Israeli athletes at Olympics
( Responding to the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to hold a moment of silence at this summer’s London games on the 40th anniversary of 11 Israeli team members killed by Palestinian terrorists in Munich, sportscaster Bob Costas said he will recognize the Israelis when he covers the Olympics for NBC.
“I intend to note that the IOC denied the request,” Costas told The Hollywood Reporter. “Many people find that denial more than puzzling, but insensitive. Here’s a minute of silence right now.”

Israeli library gets sermons from Inquisition
( The National Library of Israel has obtained a rare collection of 39 Portuguese sermons from the era of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, Israel Hayom reported. Dating back to between 1618 and 1727, the collection of sermons — read by church officials prior to ritual executions of Jews — represents more than half of the 70 such texts ever printed. During the Inquisition, the sermons were followed by elaborate ceremonies during which Jews were killed for either refusing to convert to Catholicism or still practicing their religion after converting. “These events were a recreational Sunday activity for residents of the local towns and villages,” Dr. Aviad Stollman, Judaica collections curator at the National Library of Israel, said of the ceremonies.

Fatah summer camp honors terrorist, IDF camp aids Palestinian kids with cancer
( Fatah named a summer camp after a terrorist who led an attack that killed 37 Israelis, Palestinian Media Watch reported. Among the victims of Dalal Mughrabi, namesake of the new “Sisters of Dalal Mughrabi” camp, were 12 children. Speaking to summer camp participants, the Governor of the Jericho district called Mughrabi “a beacon for us in our activities.”
Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Civil Administration hosted a three-day summer camp this month for children with cancer living in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Activities included horseback riding and music, Israel National News reported.

Iran blames drought on the West
( Iran’s conspiracy theories continue to mount, as Vice President Hassan Mousavi on Monday blamed the drought in the southern part of the country on a “soft war” perpetrated by the West, Fars reported. “The world arrogance and colonist (the West) are influencing Iran’s climate conditions using technology… The drought is an acute issue and soft war is completely evident… This level of drought is not normal,” Mousavi said. The Islamic Republic’s first vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, recently claimed at an international anti-drug conference in Tehran that the “spread of narcotics in the world emanates from the teachings of the Talmud.”

Jihadists may approach Golan Heights
( Israel Defense Forces Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday warned that global jihadists have moved into Syrian territory bordering the Golan Heights and could soon use the area to stage attacks on Israel, Israel Hayom reported. Kochavi said that Islamic terrorists have taken advantage of the chaos created by the Syrian civil war to approach the Golan area. He said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has pulled troops out of the Golan to fight rebels in other parts of the country, after concluding that the likelihood of war with Israel at this time is low.

Entrepreneurs adapt Israeli media for overseas audiences
( U.S. billionaire Ronald Lauder and French millionaire Patrick Drahi are now attempting to adapt Israeli news for an international audience — following in the footsteps of both casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who is publishing an English edition of his Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, and hedge fund manager Seth Klarman, who this February launched the English Times of Israel news website. Lauder, a co-owner of Israel’s Channel 10, is buying the Hebrew news website Nana 10 and intends to transform it into an English-language site that will appeal to readers outside of Israel. Drahi, a shareholder of Israel’s HOT cable television company, announced plans to launch an international TV station covering the Middle East from an Israeli perspective. “Drahi believes that a balanced and level-headed depiction of life in Israel will help strengthen the country’s image,” his office said in a statement to Haaretz.

France displays records of mass Jewish deportation
( French police are opening archives to reveal records on the country’s biggest mass deportation of Jews during the Holocaust. At the time, the French Vichy regime was collaborating with Nazi Germany. With the French government’s approval, more than 13,000 Jews were dragged from their homes, confined in a Paris stadium with almost no food or water, and then deported to Auschwitz. The roundup took two days. The records are displayed at the Paris Jewish district’s city hall in honor of the 70th anniversary of the roundup on July 16, 1942. The documents include a daily tally of people detained, broken down by man, woman and child. Handwritten lists show possessions confiscated by the government. “This is our history, it’s vital for the country to know,” said curator Olivier Accarie. “Today, we are ready to confront this.”

FDA approves Israeli spine and brain surgery system
( The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Renaissance surgical guidance system for brain and spinal surgery, manufactured by Israeli company Mazor Robotics Ltd.  Mazor recently improved the system to allow it to work for brain surgery, reported Globes. The units only performing spinal surgery cost $750,000 each. Mazor had NIS 9.2 million in sales for the first quarter of 2012. The company also hopes to get approval for the marketing of the system for brain surgery in Europe, where it is currently only approved for spinal surgery procedures.

Study: most UC Berkeley supporters of ‘Palestine’ can’t find it on a map
Syrian treated in Israel comes with doctor’s note
Presbyterian Church leaders visit SodaStream

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