Mideast Report

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Advertisements for the animated Disney film "Tarzan" are too sexually suggestive, according to a fervently religious group in Israel.

The National Committee to Prevent the Publication of Obscenities in the Holy Land is demanding that the loincloth worn by Tarzan in the ad, which is now appearing on Israeli billboards and buses, be replaced with something more modest.

The organization monitors billboards to ensure they are not too provocative or revealing in the eyes of fervently religious Jews. The Israeli firm that is distributing the film locally said it is considering changing the ads.

Netanyahu to consult for high-tech firm

JERUSALEM (JTA) — BATM Advanced Communications announced this week that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signed an agreement to act as a marketing consultant for international strategy.

BATM co-founder and CEO Zvi Marom said he hopes Netanyahu's connections will "open doors" for the company.

The high-tech firm is looking to expand its activities in the United States. BATM manufactures equipment used to manage, control and switch traffic over computer networks.

Palestinian sentenced in rabbi's slaying

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli military court has sentenced a Palestinian to three consecutive life terms for two 1998 attacks in which a rabbi was killed and scores of others injured.

The daughter of Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan, who was stabbed to death in his home in the West Bank town of Hebron, said Salem Sansour should have received the death penalty.

Syrian official calls Arafat a 'stripper'

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian officials demanded Tuesday that Syrian President Hafez Assad dismiss his defense minister for accusing Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat of selling out his people.

The demand came after Mustafa Tlas said a day earlier that Arafat had made one concession after another to Israel "like a stripper."

During a speech marking Army Day in Syria, Tlas added, "But a stripper becomes more beautiful with every layer she removes, while Arafat becomes uglier." Ever since he launched the Oslo process with Israel, Arafat has been persona non grata in Damascus.

IDF chief calls Syria, Iran greatest threats

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Missile attacks from Syria and Iran pose the greatest security threat to Israel, the Israel Defense Force's chief of staff said Sunday.

Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz said such attacks could target Israel's airport, major intersections and infrastructures, hampering the initial response of reserve units, which make up the bulk of the army's fighting force.

Mofaz added that the IDF should therefore maintain a strong standing army equipped to hold out until reserve units arrive.

Israeli cabinet grows to hold 24 ministers

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel's Knesset has passed an amendment enabling Prime Minister Ehud Barak to enlarge his cabinet.

Barak wanted to expand it from 18 to 24 ministers to get broad backing for his peace moves.

Yesterday, the Knesset was expected to vote on Barak's nominations: Amnon Lipkin Shahak, of the Center Party, as tourism minister; Chaim Oron, of Meretz, as agriculture minister; Matan Vilnai, of the Labor/One Israel bloc, as minister of culture, science and sport; and Rabbi Michael Melchior, also of Labor/One Israel, as minister without portfolio.