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February 24, 2012

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PAGE 12A Obama, Netanyahu to meet March 5 WASHINGTON (JTA)-- President Barack Obarna and Israeli Prime Minister Benja- min Netanyahu will meet early next month. A meeting was expected, as Netanyahu is set to be in Washington to address the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 5. In a statement Monday, the White House said the two lead- ers would meet the same day. The statement came after Tom Donilon. Obama's national security adviser, concluded a three-dayvisitto Israelinwhich he met with Netanyahu as well as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the military chief of staff. The meetings, the statement said, "addressed the full range of security issues of mutual concern." Meetings between top U.S. and Israeli officials have been more frequent in recent months as tensions between Israe.l and lran have intensified. Far-right lawmakers' move to leading party concerns Greek Jews ATHENS. Greece (JTA) Greek Jewish leaders are ex- pressing concern overthe move by two far-right lawmakers to the leading conservative party. Makis Voridis and Adonis Georgiadis resigned from the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally, or LAOS, and will run as candidates of the New Democ- racy party in April's elections. New Democracy is leading in the polls. The lawmakers, who have expressed or associated them- selves with insulting anti- Jewish views, stepped down from LAOS after backing a national austerity bill against the party's vote; the measure passed Monday. The Centrak Board of Jew- ish Communities in Greece expressed Greek Jewry's "con- cern and surprise." that Voridis and Georgiadis joined the New Democrats. Voridis and Georgiadis served as ministers in the re- cent emergency government of Prime Minister Loukas Papadimos, who made clear that whoever did not support the austerity bill would have no place in the government. LAOS voted against the package of reforms that is taking aim HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 24, 2012 -" Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA Nefesh B'Nefesh Phillip Grossman, 95, and wife Dorothy, 93, of Baltimore, on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight Feb. 14 to Israel on their way to becoming one of the oldest couples to immigrate to Israel. at Greece's severe economic problems. LAOS founder Giorgos Karatzaferis, a former body- builder, has made a number of anti-Semitic remarks on his television channel, Telecity. At the founding congress of his party in 2000, he said, "They say that to get ahead you have to be one of three things: a Jew. a homosexual or a communist. We are none of these....Vote for a parliament without Masons, without homosexuals, without those dependent on Zionism." Court clears Orthodox Jew for not carrying ID on Sab- bath (JTA) -An Orthodox Jew was found not guilty by a Hague appeals court of failing to pro- duce an ID card on the Sabbath. The man had faced a fine of nearly $200 for failing to prove his identity when requested to do so by police under a Dutch law. Orthodox Jews are not per- mitted to carry any objects in a public place on the Sabbath. The Hague appeals court ruled last week that the man's religious requirement was more important than the law, according to Dutch News, citing the Telegraaf. According to the newspaper, the minister who introduced the law was told at the time that it would present problems for Orthodox Jews, and he said then that it should be taken into account when the law was put into practice. The public prosecutor could appeal the ruling. Couple married 71 years makes aliyah JERUSALEM (JTA)--A Bal- timore couple married 71 years is believed to be the Oldest couple to make aliyah. -Phillip and Dorothy Gross- man. 95 and 93 respectively, made aliyah Feb. 14 on a Nefesh B'Nefesh group flight in coop- eration with the Ministry of ImmigrantAbsorption and the Jewish Agency, together with 43 new emigres from North America. One of their three children lives in Israel; another will be making atiyah this summer. The Grossmans were met at the airport by some of their grandchildren, great- grandchildren and great-great- grandchildren living in Israel. Single olim in their 80s and 90s have previously made aliyah, including awoman, age 99, in 2010. Netanyahu's bureau chief resigns over harassment scandal JERUSALEM (JTA)--Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu's bureau chief resigned over a sexual harassment scandal. Natan Eshel under a plea agreement signed Sunday resigned from his position and committed to never again work in civil service. Eshel admitted to unprofes- sional behavior with a female subordinate. The woman. known only as R, has refused to p:ess charges or testify against Eshel. Netanyahu in a statement thanked Eshel for "his dedicat- ed and good work over the years as head of the Prime Minister's Bureau, and commend(ed) him for his important contribution to the successful work of the government." Some 16 co-workers testified to the Civil Service Commis- sion that Eshel had an inap- propriate relationship with R. He is accused of stalking R. reading her emails and taking inappropriate photos of her. Eshel said in a statement that the plea bargain "lifts the cloud of indecent acts and/or pictures and sexual harassment off of my life once and for all, and puts an end to the devil's dance around me." Arab Spring inflating Israel's defense costs, Bibi tells U.S. Jewish leaders JERUSALEM (JTA)--The Islamistization of the Arab Spring movement has placed "enormous pressure" on Israeli defenses and progress in the peace process, Benjamin Ne- tanyahu told American Jewish leaders. The Israeli prime minister, speaking Sunday night to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Orga- nizations' annual meeting in Jerusalem. said his country's economy must continue to grow to support financing of the increased defense needs. Netanyahu said that with most oftheArab countries that had rebellions now being run by Islamists, and ultimately Iran, achieving progress with the Palestinians is difficult because they "pile precondition on precondition" in order to appease their radical latrons. He said the threat of Iran and the lack of progress on the Palestinian front means "that wewill have to spend a lot more to defend ourselves. We have." The increased cost of defend- ing the Jewish state, and leav- ing enough money for social. educational and health needs. cannot depend on foreign as- sistance and must come from the country's economy. Second Jerusalem church vandalized JERUSALEM (JTA)--A church in Jerusalem was van- dalized with an anti-Christian slogan for the second.time this month. "Death to Christians" was painted Monday on the walls of the Baptist Narkis Street Congregation. The words "Price Tag" and bad language about Jesus also were written. according to reports, and the tires of several cars in the area were slashed. Two weeks ago, the 11th- century Monastery of the Cross Church was similarly vandalized. "Price tag" refers to the strategy that extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians andAr- abs in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions, or for Palestinian attacks on Jews. Rabbi Elyashiv out of coma, condition still serious JERUSALEM (JTA) Rabbi YosefShalom Elyashiv, consid- ered this generation's leading halachic authority, is conscious after spending two weeks in a coma. Elyashiv, leader of the Lithu- anian haredi Orthodox com- munity, opened his eyes for the first time in two weeks on Sunday after being brought out of a drug-induced coma. He also sat in a chair in his hospital room for some time. He remains on a respirator, however, and is considered to be in serious condition. The rabbi will turn 102 in a month. He was hospitalized at the Shaare ZedekMedical Cen- ter in Jerusalem twoweeks ago with problems with his heart, lungs and kidneys. Israel strikes Gaza sites after weekend of rockets JERUSALEM(JTA) Israel's Air Force struck two sites in the Gaza Strip after a weekend of rocket attacks on southern Israel. Israeli aircraft late Saturday night struck a weapons manu- facturing site in northern Gaza and a home in Gaza City that a statement issued from the Israel Defense Forces called a "terror activity site." Three people were injured in the strike, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported. Two Kassam rockets were fired last Friday night at south- ern Israel andthree long-range Grad rockets landed near Beer- sheba on Saturday. No injuries or damage were reported. Also Friday, according to the IDF. an anti-tank missile was fired at Israeli soldiers near the security fence that damaged the fence. Following the soldiers' arrival at the scene, an explosive device was detonated in Gaza. Israeli soldiers responded with tank fire, according to the IDF. More than 30 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel so far this year, according to the IDF. Palestinians attack Chris- tian tourists at Temple Mount JERUSALEM (JTA)--Pal- estinians worshiping at the Temple Mount attacked a group of Christian tourists with stones. The attack Sunday report- edly was in reaction to a rumor that a group of Jewish rightists were scheduled to visit the Temple Mount and had plans to destroy the A1-Aksa mosque and build the Third Temple on thesite. Some 18 Palestinians were arrested in connection with clashes with Jerusalem police; three police officers were injured. The site remained open to worshipers and tourists. No Jews were at the site during the dashes. The incident comes a week after a regularly scheduled visit by Likud Party hard-liner Moshe Feiglin was canceled after flyers appeared hanging in the area saying that members of the ruling Likud'Party were scheduled to visit the Temple Mount that day in order to "declare that healthy leadership begins with total control over Temple Mount." Jews were prevented from visiting the Temple Mount that morning. Jordan to set up its first refugee camp for Syrians By Abdullah Omar for The Media Line AMMAN, Jordan--Jordan is putting the final touches on a refugee campbeingsetup near the border with Syria to house its share of the thousands of Syrians fleeing their homes out o f fear of being caught up in th e ongoing violence between President Bashar AI-Assad's troops and opposition forces. In the northern city of Sar- han, near Mafraq, a large plot of land has been paved; andwir- ing for electricity and piping for water installed in anticipation of arriving refugees. The camp under round- the-clock police guard, is the first in the kingdom and in the Arab region since the uprising against the A1-Assad regime began 11 months ago. Neigh- bors Iraq and Lebanon remain undecided over the developing situation in Syria and are so far refusing to establish refugee camps inside their borders. But Jordan has already al- lowed thousands of refugees to enter and has provided them with needed care. Until now, the burden of supporting the unexpected guests from Syria has fallen on local communi- ties in the border areas that have provided food, shelter and medical care to the refugees. Children of the Syrian refu- gees have even been allowed to attend public schools for free. The new camps, set up with support fr6m UNHCR-- the United Nations refugee agency--will lift the burden from the locals. According toAhmed Emian, secretary general of the Hash- emite Charity Foundation. the camp will be open and ready to receive its residents shortly. "We have set up the camp in terms of paving the ground, putting electricity and providing it with sanitation and water." he told The Media Line. "We will be openingthe latest by the end of the month," For nearly 11 months into the anti-Assad uprising, and despite the rising number of Syrians seeking the safety of its borders, pro-Western Jordan resisted the temptation of set- ting up camps. Observers and Western diplomats say Jordan, possibly the most experienced in the region in terms of hosting refugees, waited for a political decision fromhigher authorities and its allies before erecting tents on the borders. At the start of the uprising last year, Jordan imposed a media blackout on the pres- ence of refugees in order to avoid angering Syria and its strong neighbors. But now, a number of philanthropic groups have been given the nod to provide for the needs of refugees in certain areas, including the border. Amman and as far south as the city of Ma'an. Estimates of the actual number of asylum seekers vary. The government says nearly 5,000 have entered the kingdom since the uprising began in Syria in March 2011, while estimates offered by the philanthropic groups put the number of asylum seekers in the tens of thousands. Yet, the UN-agency UNHCR pegs the number of registered refugees at about 3,000--less than the government estimate but twice the number it reported only one month ago, accord- ing to Jamal Arafat. chief representative of UNHCR in Amman. He told The Media Line that no camps have been set up yet, suggesting that such a move is . more of a political choice than a logistical one. "We are ready to open refugee camps, butwe do not see any need for that yet," he said. Ab.u Ahmed is a Syrian ac- tivist fleeing from the city of Harak, a hotbed of anti-Assad protests in Deraa. He arrived in Mafraq three weeks ago after a long chase by Syrian security forces. Abu Ahmed currently lives in a mosque in Mafraq, awaiting accommodations for his family. "I fled without my family or anybody. I crossed illegally into Jordan and now I live in this mosque," he told The Media Line in a telephone interview. Abu Ahmed said many Syrians want to flee but they are unable to do so because of the heavy security procedures and fear of arrest on the borders. Jordan has not broken-off relations with Damascus and has said it will not ask the Syrian ambassador to leave even though Syrian ambassadors posted in the oil rich Gulf States have been expelled. Privately, officials say the kingdom will be hurt in case it severs diplomatic ties with its much larger neighbor, and prefers to keep diplomatic channels open. In the mean- time. residents of Deraa warn that the Syrian army has in- tensified its patrols along the long border in order to prevent a mass influx of refugees and to stop activists wanted by the regime in Syria from fleeing to Jordan. Butarriving refugees escap- ing the continued shelling in areas in the Huran region say itwill be extremely difficult for A1-Assad's forces to stop local residents from leaving.