1) Scary stuff about Syria from Haaretz
Syria is producing more rockets and preparing its army for possible armed conflict with Israel, but is unlikely to initiate an attack, head of the Defense Ministry's political-security department, Amos Gilad, told Israel Radio Saturday. Gilad said Syria is increasing its army's preparedness for violent conflict, such as possible Israeli retaliation to Syria's support for militant anti-Israeli groups, but that it is unlikely Syria would initiate an attack against Israel. Gilad also said Syria is equipping the military with more anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles and producing more rockets. Noting that Israel has been in the range of Syrian rockets for years, he said: "Any disaster would stem from the fact that the attitude in Damascus is much more violent, and that they (the Syrian leaders) have become enamored with the violent option".
2) Protests over the Katzav plea bargain: Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post both say that about 20,000 people showed up in Rabin Square tonight to protest. (And this was on about 24 hours notice - pretty impressive showing).
In what was a palpable atmosphere of outrage and combative determination, some 20,000 people piled into Kikar Rabin on Saturday night to protest the plea bargain reached Thursday between the state and President Moshe Katsav.
Chanting "We will not accept this," and "We will not give up," the protestors cheered as speaker after speaker, mostly media personalities associated with women's rights, as well as several left-wing MKs, spoke about the "injustice" caused to the complainants in the Katsav sexual abuse case, after Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz dropped rape charges against the president. The women's rights groups said they planned to file a petition on Sunday with the High Court of Justice to have the plea bargain annulled. There were no right-wing or religious Knesset members in attendance.
Women's groups, along with the Association of Rape Crisis Centers, called for justice and equality, and expressed anger at the dramatic development. Such was the surprise at the amount of people in attendance, that several women's groups vied to get their spokespeople on the stage to address the crowd, with at least one group not able to enter a speaker onto the roster. The turnout for the event was unexpectedly large, said Miriam Shler, one of the organizers of the rally.
3) Yehuda Poliker concert. At the same time as the rally in Tel Aviv I went with a friend to a wonderful concert of Yehuda Poliker, whom I had not heard before, at an event sponsored by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, at the Hechal ha-Tarbut in Tel Aviv. It was great, full of energy, towards the end everyone was on their feet dancing. He sings in Greek and Hebrew. His parents were Holocaust survivors from Salonika, Greece, who went to Israel after the war. (He made a movie that came out in 1988, "Because of that war," about being the child of survivors - which I must now see, because I want to know more about him and also because his music appears in the movie too).