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Dispatch from Jerusalem

Israelis on Evolution

April 13, 2005

The Israeli edition of National Geographic magazine commissioned a poll to determine how Israelis view evolution. The results: More than 42% of Israelis believe God created man, while 31% believe that man was the product of evolution.

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Abu Mazen-  “Little Jihad” Is Over, “Big Jihad” Starts

April 13, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) received just over 62% of the vote in the Palestinian elections on January 9, 2005, and took Yasser Arafat’s place as Palestinian Authority (PA) chief—with a practically identical platform.

Appearing before cheering crowds after his win, Abu Mazen said that the period of the “little jihad [holy war] had ended, and now the big jihad is beginning.” This quote led to a quaint exchange on Israel Radio’s morning newsmagazine. Arabic-speaking correspondent Avi Yisacharov played the tapes of Abu Mazen’s quotes and then quickly said, “Regarding the future…” He was immediately interrupted by anchorman Aryeh Golan, who said, “Whoa, wait a second. What’s this ‘big jihad’ stuff?” Yisacharov gave a nervous chuckle and said, “I don’t think he means a real jihad, he just means the challenges ahead of reforms in the PA and the release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel…”

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Israel’s Economic Comeback

April 13, 2005

After the worst recession in the country’s history, Israel is staging an economic comeback. A rise in global demand and dramatic improvement in the security situation helped real gross domestic product to grow by about 4% in 2004. And prospects for 2005 look equally good.

A 20% jump in exports led the 2004 recovery. Gains were especially strong in high-tech gear, such as software and semiconductors, which account for half of Israel’s industrial exports. Tourism, private consumption, and construction also added to growth.

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Long-Range Rockets Smuggled Into Gaza

April 13, 2005

The fear that Ashkelon will come within range of Arab-fired rockets from Gaza is now overshadowed by the fear that locations even farther than Ashkelon will be targeted.

A defense industries expert, quoted in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, says that Arabs in Gaza have been able to smuggle in 20-kilometer (12-mile) Egyptian rockets, or parts thereof. These would put within range Ashkelon’s power plant, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Shikmim Farm, Netivot, and possibly even Kiryat Gat.

The rocket in question is 122 millimeters (4.8 inches) in diameter, with a warhead weighing up to 23 kilograms (50 pounds). The most powerful Kassams now in use have a range of 8 to 10 kilometers (5 to 6 miles), putting the Shikmim Farm, to the east of Sderot, just out of range. The terrorists continually improve the rockets’ performance, however, and can send the rockets to within 400 meters (1,312 feet) of a target 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.

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Danger of Temple Mount Collapse has Passed

March 21, 2005

The immediate danger of the collapse of the eastern wall of Jerusalem's Temple Mount has passed, after badly needed repair work was carried out by Jordanian engineers inside the ancient compound, Israel's top archaeological body said in late November.

Earlier last year, the head of Israel's Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, had warned that the unstable 2,000-year-old eastern wall of the Temple Mount, further damaged from a recent earthquake, was in danger of immediate collapse, which could cause a “domino effect” and bring down other sections of the bitterly contested ancient compound.

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Israel’s Citrus Exports Growing

March 21, 2005

The Israeli Plants Production and Marketing Board, which includes citrus, is optimistic about citrus exports this winter season. It predicts a 36% growth in exports, by volume, to 188,000 tons, and a 40% increase in value, to US $162 million.

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Children in Israel

March 21, 2005

Children aged 17 and under make up a third of Israel's population, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reports. The numbers show that of the 2,253,800 Israelis under age 17, over a quarter (27%) are Arabs, while just under two-thirds are Jewish. This does not tell the full story, however. Nearly half the Arab population is under 17, while in the Jewish population, it's only 30.4%. Minor relief can be found in the fact that the proportion of children in other Western countries is said to be 18% to 26%.

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Coin of Jesus Found in Ancient Tiberias Excavation

March 14, 2005

An unusual and important find was recently discovered at the archaeological excavation of ancient Tiberias, which is being carried out at a site on the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

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Poverty Is Not the Cause of Terrorism

{image_1} A new study by a Harvard University professor has found that terrorism is not caused by poverty-thus further undermining the main premise behind international aid to the Palestinian Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

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They Didn’t Find Ancient Rice Krispies…

March 14, 2005

…or Cheerios, but an Israeli-American archaeological team, which excavated an area uncovered when the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) dropped five years ago, has documented the oldest evidence for the processing of wild cereals on grinding stones.

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