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Highlights of Jewish News 5762 Compiled by Max Heuer September 2001


WASHINGTON — The United States invites Israel to participate in the international anti-terror coalition assembled by the White House following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. NEW YORK — in a statement faxed to Pakistani news organizations, Al-Qaida threatens Jews and Americans: “Wherever there are Americans and Jews, they will be targeted.”

GAZA STRIP — Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat agree to a series of steps aimed at creating a lasting cease-fire. Three miles from their meeting site, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy is killed and 11 youngsters wounded when Israeli troops fire on a crowd of rock throwers.

October 2001

MOSCOW — A Sibir Airlines flight is accidently shot down over the Black Sea by a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile, killing all 78 people aboard, 66 of whom are Jews.

LONDON — Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal announces his retirement at the age of 92 after bringing some 3,000 war criminals to justice.

NEW YORK — More than 400 people gather at New York’s Park East Synagogue for a shloshim service marking the end of the 30-day mourning period for victims of the Sept. 11 terror attack on the World Trade Center.

BERKELEY, Calif. — In response to a number of anti-Semitic incidents on campus, Jewish students at the University of California at Berkeley hold a sit-in and flyer campaign. The protests also follow an assault on a student celebrating Simchat Torah.

NEW YORK — The New York offices of several Jewish organizations are checked for contamination after anthrax spores are found in the Manhattan office of New York Gov. George Pataki, which is located in the same building.

JERUSALEM — Gunmen lurking in a hotel hallway assassinate Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi, prompting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to declare, “From today, everything has changed, just as President Bush said after the 11th of September.” The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a PLO faction, claims responsibility — in revenge, the group says, for Israel’s killing of PFLP Secretary-General Mustafa Zibri.

MARSEILLE, France — Vandals ignite two trailers used as classrooms at the Pardes Jewish School in Marseille. The attack is part of a wave of anti-Semitic incidents that continues for months. Increased violence against Jews prompts French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to announce the creation of a program in French schools devoted to the memory of the Holocaust and crimes against humanity.

November 2001

BERLIN — Amid right-wing protests, an exhibit reopens that details how ordinary German soldiers committed Nazi war crimes. First launched in 1994, the exhibit counters a widely held belief that the army, unlike Hitler’s SS, was not involved in Nazi atrocities.

NEW YORK — Charles Bronfman, in his departing speech as chairman of the North American Jewish federation system, says the United Jewish Communities should welcome a younger leadership. “We have to change the perception that is out there that rich, old guys who write big checks — guys even older than me — are the only ones who count.”

December 2001

JERUSALEM — A series of Palestinian suicide bombings kill 25 Israelis in a single weekend. Two bombs are detonated almost simultaneously on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, and a third about 20 minutes later on nearby Rav Kook Street. The attacks kill 10 people and injure 188. The next day, a suicide bomber on a bus in Haifa kills 15 people and injures 40. The attacks come as U.S. envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni is in the Middle East, attempting to find a way to halt violence.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passes a resolution calling on President Bush to suspend relations with the Palestinian Authority if it does not arrest terrorists. The resolution also calls on the Palestinian Authority to destroy the infrastructure of terrorist groups, and prosecute terrorists or extradite them to Israel.

GENEVA — Gerhart Riegner, credited as the first to alert the world to the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews, dies at the age of 90.

GENEVA — At a meeting of signatory states to the Fourth Geneva Convention, a final declaration calls on Israel to “refrain from committing grave breaches” of the convention, including “willful killing, torturing and unlawful deportation.” The convention fails to mention Palestinian violence.

NEW YORK — A menorah is lit at the site of the World Trade Center attack. Laura Lehnfeld, who is 18 months old and lost her father in the attack, lights the first candle.

JERUSALEM — After 10 Israelis are killed and 23 wounded in a bus bombing near the West Bank settlement of Immanuel, Israel announces it will cut all contact with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

BUENOS AIRES — Responding to the deepening economic and political crisis in Argentina, Israel announces a new plan of financial benefits to increase Argentine Jewish aliyah. The roughly 200,000 Argentine Jews, many of whom are members of the middle class, have been hard hit by the crisis, which began with street riots in December.

WALTHAM, Mass. — Brandeis University launches a center on Jewish education, endowed by the Mandel Supporting Foundations of Cleveland. The center trains Jewish educators and sponsors research on education.

NEW YORK — The U.N. General Assembly passes two non-binding resolutions condemning Israel. In a special emergency session initiated by Palestinian supporters, the assembly calls for international monitors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat calls Israel’s refusal to permit him to go to Bethlehem for Christmas a “crime.” Israel says Arafat can’t attend because he has not done enough to rein in terrorism.

January 2002

PARIS — A series of attacks against Jewish sites in Paris draws demonstrators and a condemnation by President Jacques Chirac. Attacks include suspected arson at a Jewish school, rock-throwing at one synagogue and gasoline bombs and stones directed at another.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military captures the Karine-A, a boat filled with 50 tons of weapons, in the Red Sea. The United States determines the ship was headed to the Palestinian Authority from Iran.

NEW YORK — A court rules that two men convicted for their role in the killing of a Chasidic man during the 1991 Crown Heights did not receive a fair trial. A new trial is ordered, frustrating many Jewish leaders. But the court also upholds the legitimacy of the federal civil rights statute under which the defendants were charged, a move seen as a victory by Jewish leaders.

NEWPORT, R.I. — President Bush proclaims Jan. 16 “Religious Freedom Day 2002,” noting George Washington’s promise that the United States would protect the rights of people of all faiths.

HADERA, Israel — Six Israelis are killed and 33 injured when a Palestinian terrorist attacks a banquet hall during a Bat Mitzvah celebration.

JERUSALEM — Unemployment in Israel reaches 200,000, a 13 percent rise from 2001.

TEHRAN — An Iranian Jew convicted of spying for Israel is freed from jail after serving a three-year sentence. Faramarz Kashi, a Hebrew teacher, is the second of 10 Iranian Jews released after being convicted of spying charges in July 2000.

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian woman blows herself up, killing one man and wounding more than 100 people in downtown Jerusalem. The attack is believed to mark the first time a woman has been used as a suicide bomber. Israeli officials later announce that Wafa Idris, a Red Crescent volunteer from Ramallah, used a Red Crescent ambulance to get through a roadblock north of Jerusalem.

February 2002

NEW YORK — Citing the ailing economy, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, announces that 10 percent of its staff will be laid off, just before the group celebrates its 90th anniversary.

NABLUS, West Bank — Israeli planes wound 11 Palestinians during an airstrike, followed by the largest military operation in 16 months in the Gaza Strip. The strikes come after Palestinian terrorists open fire in downtown Beersheba, killing two Israelis.

WASHINGTON — Jewish groups pass a controversial resolution praising the White House for its efforts in the war on terrorism. The resolution is passed at the annual conference of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, over the objections of several groups that say the Bush administration has not struck the proper balance between civil rights and national security.

KARNEI SHOMRON, West Bank — A suicide bomber kills three teen-agers and wounds 27 people in an attack on a shopping mall in a West Bank settlement at the end of the Sabbath.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The killing of six Israeli soldiers at a Ramallah-area roadblock prompts Israeli land, sea and ground reprisals that kill at least 14 Palestinians.

WASHINGTON — The death of kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is announced by State Department officials who have viewed a videotape showing Pearl’s throat being slit, and his subsequent decapitation. Just before his murder, Pearl is taped telling his kidnappers that he is Jewish.

March 2002

NEW YORK — The North American federation system pledges $35 million to help Argentine Jews emigrate to Israel and $5 million for relief efforts in Argentina. The funds are announced amid a deepening economic crisis that has spurred many Argentine Jews to flee the country.

JERUSALEM — U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni arrives in Israel to meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before holding talks with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

BERLIN — Authorities say right-wing extremists or Arab terrorists are behind a grenade explosion at a Jewish cemetery.

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney refuses to meet with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat during a trip to the region, saying Arafat must first take steps to halt Palestinian terrorism.

NEW YORK — A controversial exhibit of Holocaust art opens at the Jewish Museum. Critics say “Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art,” is offensive and insensitive to Holocaust survivors, while its defenders say the exhibit shows how a new generation of artists have incorporated the Holocaust into their work. The controversy dies down after many critics pan the exhibit.

JERUSALEM — Thirteen people are killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks on the same day in Jerusalem and Netanya. In Jerusalem, 11 Israelis are killed and 54 injured in a suicide bombing at the Cafe Moment, located 200 yards from the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s official residence. In Netanya, two Palestinian terrorists shoot dead two Israelis and injure about 50.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, Yisrael Meir Lau, pledges to recognize and cooperate only with those rabbinical courts outside Israel that adopt a set of standards on divorce issues. Several key rabbis and Orthodox groups around the world also endorse the standards, which are designed to help women navigate the rabbinical court system, which many accuse of favoring men.

NETANYA — Twenty-nine people are killed in a suicide bombing at a Passover seder in a Netanya hotel. More than 100 people are wounded in the attack, which becomes known as the “Passover Massacre.”

HAIFA — A suicide bomber attacks a restaurant in Haifa, killing 15 people and wounding about 35. Hours later, a bomber strikes outside a health clinic in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, wounding at least four people.

JERUSALEM — Israel launches Operation Protective Wall, an invasion of the West Bank aimed at stopping terrorist attacks. Heavy fighting is centered in Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem and Jenin.

BERLIN — A rabbinical student visiting from the United States is attacked on the street while walking with a friend. The perpretators are believed to be of Middle Eastern descent.

April 2002

TEL AVIV — Thousands of Israelis demonstrate in Tel Aviv, calling on the government to pull the Israeli army out of Palestinian cities as heavy fighting is reported in Jenin and Nablus as part of Operation Protective Wall.

JERUSALEM — U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives in Israel for meetings with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. Of Operation Protective Wall, Powell says, “However long the Israeli incursion continues, the problems will still be there.” Meanwhile, in a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush calls on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities “without delay.”

NEW YORK — The North American federation system launches an emergency campaign to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Israel. The campaign is reminiscent of one undertaken during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel’s survival was at stake.

HAIFA — Eight Israelis are killed and 14 wounded in a suicide bus bombing. The blast demolishes a crowded bus filled with commuters traveling from Haifa to Jerusalem.

JERBA, Tunisia — A truck filled with natural gas crashes into a historic synagogue on a Tunisian island, killing 16 and injuring 20. Al-Qaida later claims responsibility for the attack.

KIEV, Ukraine — About 50 youths attack the central synagogue in Ukraine’s capital, beating three people, hurling bottles and breaking windows. The mob marches down Kiev’s main boulevard, shouting “Kill the Jews!” “I call this act a pogrom,” says the head of Kiev’s yeshiva, Rabbi Tzvi Kaplan. “It’s a miracle that it was not worse.”

WASHINGTON — More than 100,000 Israel supporters from across North America gather to express solidarity with the Jewish state. Speakers include former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz — who draws some boos from the crowd when he notes that many Palestinians also are suffering.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says Israel’s siege of Ramallah is self-defense in the face of Palestinian terrorism. Powell also urges Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to consider the consequences of the move. Other world leaders, meanwhile, call on Israel to end Operation Protective Wall and call for greater international intervention to reduce tensions.

GENEVA — U.N. Watch criticizes European states for voting for a one-sided resolution against Israel at the Geneva-based U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The resolution includes a thinly veiled endorsement of Palestinian terror attacks.

PARIS — A far-right politician, Jean-Marie Le Pen, stages a huge upset in the first round of France’s presidential election, coming in second behind President Jacques Chirac. Le Pen beats out Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the Socialist Party candidate, but ultimately loses in the runoff with Chirac.

PARIS — The European Jewish Congress counts some 360 anti-Semitic incidents in France during the first three weeks of April. According to France’s Interior Ministry, 60 percent of the incidents are verbal assaults and graffiti, but there also are a dozen attempts to set fire to synagogues or damage graves. The number of incidents prompts some American Jewish leaders to call for a boycott of France, but French Jewish leaders object.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Cabinet bars a U.N. fact-finding panel from visiting the Jenin refugee camp to investigate accusations of Israeli war crimes. Israel fears the panel would be biased against it. The Cabinet also approves a U.S. plan to end the Israeli siege of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters that involves sending several wanted Palestinians to prison in Jericho.

HEBRON — Palestinian terrorists wearing Israeli army uniforms infiltrate a Jewish settlement, killing four people, including a 5-year-old girl, and wounding seven others.

May 2002

NEW YORK — A CBS-New York Times poll finds that 48 percent of Americans support U.S. intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while 43 percent oppose it. Sixty percent of Americans approve of President Bush’s handling of the conflict, according to the poll, which has a 3 percent margin of error.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A five-week standoff between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the Church of Nativity ends when 13 Palestinians whom Israel considers “senior terrorists” are flown to exile in Europe. The agreement also sends 26 Palestinians to Gaza to face terrorism charges, while the rest of the 124 are set free.

RISHON LE-ZION, Israel — A suicide bombing in a pool hall kills 15 people and injures more than 60, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to cut short a visit to Washington.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Israel supporters respond to a pro-divestment faculty petition that garners nearly 120 signatures with a counter-petition that calls the original effort “a one-sided attempt to delegitimize Israel.” 4,000 Harvard and MIT faculty, students, and staff sign the counter-measure.

WASHINGTON — A U.S. court upholds a ruling that New York state’s kosher law is unconstitutional. The court says the law defines kosher solely by using the definition of Orthodox Judaism, while prohibiting other branches of Judaism from using the kosher label in a way consistent with their requirements.

PETACH TIKVAH, Israel — An 18-month-old Israeli girl and her grandmother are killed in a suicide bombing in a shopping mall near Tel Aviv. More than 40 people are wounded, six of them seriously.

MOSCOW — A Russian woman is severely injured when she tries to take down a booby-trapped road sign that says, “Death to Kikes.” Her mother also is injured.

BRUSSELS — 10,000 Europeans demonstrate in solidarity with Israel in the city that houses the headquarters of the European Union. Participants wave Israeli flags and the banners of their home countries.

June 2002

NEW YORK — Syria, which the U.S. State Department lists as a sponsor of terrorism, assumes the presidency of the U.N. Security Council for the month of June.

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon approves the construction of a fence between Israel and the West Bank. The plan envisions a 75-mile fence covering about one-third of the unmarked border in an area where Israel is at its narrowest.

MEGGIDO, Northern Israel — 17 Israelis, including 13 soldiers, are killed and 40 wounded when a car bomb explodes beside a bus traveling from Tel Aviv to Tiberias.

RAMALLAH — Israeli forces attack Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s compound, destroying three buildings. One shell hits Arafat’s bedroom, but Israeli officials deny they are trying to kill him.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passes an anti-terrorism bill that includes additional aid for Israel and the Palestinians. The $31.5 billion bill provides $200 million for Israel and $50 million for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to be distributed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

JERUSALEM — Three terror attacks in three days kill a total of 31 people and injure 121. The first attack is a suicide bombing on a crowded bus in Jerusalem that kills 19 Israelis and wounds 71, most of them children. The second attack is at a hitchhiking post in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem, killing 7 Israelis and wounding 50. In the third attack, a Palestinian gunman infiltrates the settlement of Itamar, killing five Israelis.

WEST BANK — Israeli soldiers enter the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Nablus and Tulkarm in search of terrorists. The move signals a new Israeli policy of occupying land in response to suicide bombings.

WASHINGTON — In a much-anticipated speech outlining U.S. policy in the Middle East, President Bush calls for a “new and different Palestinian leadership” before a Palestinian state can be created. Bush says the United States will back Palestinian statehood after the Palestinians “have new leaders and institutions.”

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court votes 5-4 that vouchers, which provide government funds for students to attend parochial or private schools, do not violate the constitutional separation of church and state. Orthodox groups hail the ruling as a potential aid to Jewish day schools, while liberal groups criticize the ruling as federal funding for religious activities.

July 2002

WASHINGTON — B’nai B’rith International releases a report entitled “Jihad, Jews and Anti-Semitism in Syrian School Texts,” which details how schoolchildren are taught to hate Zionism and Jews, view terrorist attacks as martyrdom, reject peace with Israel and seek to destroy the Jewish state.

JERUSALEM — The International Criminal Court in The Hague comes into force, drawing concern from Israeli officials and protests from the United States government. The court has the ability to indict individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war and aggression. Israel’s anxiety stems from the increasing use of international institutions to bash the Jewish state. The United States withholds support for the court over concern that U.S. peacekeeping forces around the world could become targets in politically-motivated cases.

JERUSALEM — Water begins to drip from a rock in the middle of the Western Wall. Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Western Wall, said, “Maybe the wall is indeed crying because of the current situation in the country.”

LOS ANGELES – An Egyptian man kills two Israelis at an El Al counter on July 4 at Los Angeles International Airport, and is shot dead by the airline’s security personnel. Israeli officials call the shooting a terrorist attack, but U.S. authorities say they can’t link Hesham Mohamed Hayadet, who had lived in the United States for 10 years, to any terrorist organization.

TOMSK, Russia — Another booby-trapped anti-Semitic sign explodes, lightly wounding the man who tries to remove it. The incident is declared an act of hooliganism by Russian authorities. Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s two chief rabbis, says authorities need to take acts of anti-Semitism more seriously.

MOSCOW — A new hate-crimes bill passes the upper house of Russia’s Parliament. The bill wins praise from the Jewish community worried by increasing anti-Semitic acts, but draws concern from many left-leaning groups worried over infringement of freedom of speech.

IMMANUEL, West Bank — Nine Israelis are killed and 15 wounded in a Palestinian ambush near the West Bank settlement of Immanuel. The attack comes hours before officials from “The Quartet” — the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations — met in New York to discuss ways to end Israeli-Palestinian violence.

TEL AVIV — A double suicide bombing in southern Tel Aviv kills five people — two Israelis, one Romanian guest worker and two Chinese guest workers — and wounds dozens on the evening of Tisha B’Av.

GAZA CITY — An Israeli airstrike kills Hamas military leader Salah Shehada, along with 14 civilians, 9 of whom are children. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initially calls the strike a “major success,” while expressing regret for the loss of civilian life, but Israeli military officials question whether the use of such a large bomb was warranted. The move receives widespread international criticism, including a statement from President Bush calling the action “heavy handed.”

NEW YORK — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says the United States will veto any Security Council resolution on Israeli-Palestinian violence that doesn’t condemn Palestinian terrorism and specifically mention Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aksa Brigade.

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian bomber kills nine people, including five Americans, and wounds more than 80 in an attack on a Hebrew University cafeteria.


NEW YORK — A U.N. report said there was no massacre by Israeli forces when they took control of the Jenin refugee camp during an anti-terror operation last spring. Israel’s Foreign Ministry hailed the report, saying it “overwhelmingly negates” Palestinian claims of a massacre.

NEW YORK — Jewish groups give mixed reactions to a decision that made school vouchers unconstitutional in Florida. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League hailed the ruling, in which a trial court judge ruled that the Florida voucher program violates the state’s constitution. But the Orthodox Union, which supports vouchers, said the ruling was not unexpected because many states have “anti-religious” provisions in their constitutions.

MUNICH — A memorial ceremony is held for the 11 Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The ceremony was held on the 30th anniversary of the athletes’ deaths.

JERUSALEM — Palestinian militia leader Marwan Barghouti is charged with murder in a Tel Aviv court. The indictment sheet describes the West Bank chief of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement as an “arch-terrorist whose hands are bloodied by dozens of terrorist actions.”

PRAGUE — Czech Jewish leaders launch an appeal for aid after floods cause an estimated $4 million worth of damage to Jewish holy sites. One Prague synagogue will be closed for several months because of damages sustained in the floods. Jewish sites in Dresden, Germany, also are damaged.

JERUSALEM — Israeli troops began withdrawing from the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The withdrawal is the first step in the Gaza/Bethlehem First plan, which aims to gradually lessen Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.

JERUSALEM — Israel captures a 15-man Hamas cell from eastern Jerusalem suspected of carrying out eight terror attacks, including a July 31 bombing at Hebrew University that killed nine people, including five Americans. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations demands the extradition of the suspects so they can be tried for murder in the United States, but the State Department demurs.

JOHANNESBURG — Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists verbally clash on the first day of the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development. Police step in to keep the activists apart. Jewish activists have been working to keep the summit from turning into a repeat of last year’s U.N. anti-racism conference in Durban, which featured virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity. Later, South African police force 50 Israelis to leave a Palestinian news conference at the summit after the Israelis shouted down the wife of jailed militia leader Marwan Barghouti.

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