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News Brief

May 17, 2004
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About 120,000 Israelis called for Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip at a Tel Aviv rally. “Eighty percent of our people want peace. One percent are trying to block it,” Labor Party leader Shimon Peres told those gathered for the rally Saturday night in Rabin Square, referring to Likud voters who rejected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan from the Palestinians in a May 2 party referendum.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed as one of them helped a Palestinian woman get food in Gaza. Sgt. Rotem Adam was among the Israeli soldiers searching the Rafah refugee camp for the remains of five soldiers killed there May 12.

AIPAC’s keynote speaker said Israel should withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, the Israeli justice minister, delivered the opening remarks Sunday at this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.

Israel’s high court reversed a temporary ban on demolishing Palestinian homes in a Gaza Strip combat zone. Having issued a stay on the Israeli army’s demolitions of Arab homes in the Rafah refugee camp last week, the High Court of Justice said Sunday that the demolitions could proceed if justified on security grounds.

A Palestinian Authority official said Hamas and Islamic Jihad are ready for a cease-fire with Israel. P.A. Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath said Sunday that he told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell the terrorist groups told Egyptian mediators they are ready for a cease-fire if Israel responds in kind.

Three of the five people arrested last week for firebombing a Montreal Jewish school in April pleaded not guilty. Two 18-year-olds charged with arson and conspiracy, and the mother of one of the accused, charged with being an accessory after the fact, all pleaded not guilty Saturday in a Montreal court.

A prominent Arab columnist for an Arabaic-language newspaper called on Yasser Arafat to resign. “It is time to give the wheel to younger hands,” Jihad Al Khazen, a former editor in chief of the Saudi-owned, London-based Al-Hayat, wrote in an open letter to the Palestinian Authority president that was published in the paper.

The son of a Chabad rabbi in San Francisco was arrested for setting his father’s home and shul ablaze. Avi Langer, 33, allegedly stole a Torah from the Chabad House of San Francisco, run by his father, Yosef Langer, before setting the place on fire, The Associated Press reported.

Chabad set up a permanent presence in Idaho, the group’s 46th U.S. state. Rabbi Mendel Lifschitz and his wife, Esther Miriam, moved to Boise recently. Chabad-Lubavitch now has permanent emissaries in every U.S. state except Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota. Chabad says the Jewish population of Boise is growing due to the location there of two large technology companies: HP and Micron.

The United States is opposed to Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes, Colin Powell said. “We know that Israel has a right to self-defense but the kind of action they are taking in Rafah, with the destruction of Palestinian homes, we opposed,” the U.S. secretary of state said Sunday, referring to Israeli army operations in a Gaza refugee camp where seven Israelis soldiers were killed last week.

Israel denied a report that Turkey was cooling bilateral ties with the Jewish state. “As far as we are concerned, relations are as good as ever,” an official in the Foreign Ministry said Sunday in reference to reports in the Lebanese daily Al-Mustakbal that Turkey’s pro-Islamic government was freezing strategic deals with Israel.

A man who placed fake bombs near Jewish targets in the Paris region was sentenced to two months in jail. A court in Paris last Friday found Julien Sudrie, 18, guilty of placing a false bomb on the grounds of a synagogue in Villers-le-Bel, north of the capital, earlier this month.

Canadian police shut down a white-supremacist Web site and seized Nazi paraphernalia in Edmonton, Alberta. The police action against the Western Canada for Us site followed a complaint from a local anti-racism group, Canadian media reported.

Jewish philanthropist and activist Henry Everett died Saturday in New York at 78. Everett was vice president of JTA’s board of directors as well as a board member of UJA-Federation of New York, the American Jewish Committee and the New York Boards of Rabbis, the Council of Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Centers of America and the Everett School in Hatzor, Israel.

Roger Cukierman was re-elected as president of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jews. A former banker with the Rotschild group, Cukierman beat Serge Hajdenberg, founder and president of the Radio J community radio station, by 113-16 at the CRIF General Assembly meeting in Paris on Sunday.

A controversial wax figure of Hitler, which provoked an uproar in Germany, went back on display on Berlin. Less than two months after public ire forced exhibition manager Inna Vollstaedt to close her small, private museum when her landlord evicted her over the Hitler wax figure, Vollstaedt reopened the exhibition around the corner in a new space, Reuters reported.

Worshipers at a Miami mosque discovered a swastika and an obscenity scrawled on the building’s sign last week. Officials at the Islamic School of Miami, and another Miami mosque that reportedly was vandalized, called for the FBI to investigate.

An exhibit of editorial cartoons from the 1940s that challenged the U.S. response to the Holocaust opened in New York. The exhibit, “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust: Art in the Service of Humanity,” opened Sunday at a conference at Manhattan’s Ramaz School called “Teaching and Learning About America’s Response to the Holocaust,” sponsored by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

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