Israeli forces are expected to begin withdrawing from Lebanon by Wednesday. (JTA) Security sources said Tuesday that talks have begun between Israeli top brass and their Lebanese counterparts for an imminent redeployment in southern Lebanon. The first area to be handed over to the Lebanese army is the easternmost segment of the frontier. According to an unconfirmed report Tuesday, Israeli troops already have left the main town in that area, Marjayoun. Lebanon says it has sent some 15,000 soldiers to the Litani River, which marks the northernmost point of Israel’s monthlong war against Hezbollah, ahead of a full handover of the South.

The outcome of Israel’s war on Hezbollah sounded the death-knell for U.S. visions of reforming the Middle East, Syria’s president said. (JTA) “The Middle East they aspire to has become an illusion,” Bashar Assad said Tuesday in a speech that described Hezbollah as the main victor of the monthlong war in Lebanon. “The result was more failure for Israel, its allies and masters,” he said. Assad accused Israel of not wanting peace, and hinted that his country could resort to military action to secure the return of the Golan Heights. “When we say that we have chosen peace as our strategy, it does not mean we gave up other options,” he said.

Hezbollah lost the war it launched, President Bush said. (JTA) “Hezbollah attacked Israel, Hezbollah started the crisis and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis,” Bush said after assessing the war Monday at a meeting attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The major reason, he said, is that the cease-fire resolution ending the war calls for a Lebanese army force, backed by a robust international force, to take control of southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s heartland. Bush said the crisis helped clarify the difference between a terrorist group and a sovereign nation. “Israel, when they aimed at a target and killed innocent citizens, were upset. Society was aggrieved. When Hezbollah’s rockets killed innocent Israelis, they celebrated,” Bush said. “I think if people take a look at the type of mentality that celebrates the loss of innocent life, they’ll reject that type of mentality.”

An exhibit of cartoons on the Holocaust opened in Iran. (JTA) Iran opened a competition for the cartoons in reaction to last year’s controversy over the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. One of more than 200 cartoons displayed shows the Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in one hand and giving a Nazi-style salute in the other, The Associated Press reported.

The father of a man standing trial in Tennessee for allegedly murdering his wife said he helped his son conceal the body because “she was a typical JAP.” (JTA) The videotaped deposition by Col. Arthur March was played Saturday in a Tennessee court. March’s son, Perry, is accused of killing Janet March in 1996 after she said she wanted a divorce. Court TV reported that Arthur March, who received a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying, called his former daughter-in-law a “Jewish-American Princess,” adding “Anything she wanted, she went to her father.”

Magician David Blaine will spend five days performing for Israelis affected by violence. (JTA) Blaine will give benefit performances Tuesday through Saturday for children and families in bomb shelters in northern Israel and in Jewish Agency for Israel-run camps in central Israel. Blaine, whose visit is being supported by the UJA-Federation of New York and organized by the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Agency, also will perform at army bases and for wounded soldiers in hospitals in Safed and Haifa.


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