Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Highlights of Jewish News: 5763 September 2002

September 19, 2003
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

TEL AVIV — The trial of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian militia leader accused of orchestrating terrorist attacks that left scores of Israelis dead, opens in a Tel Aviv court. MONTREAL Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancels a speech at Montreal’s Concordia University after pro-Palestinian rioters wreak havoc. Police fire tear gas as protesters throw chairs and other objects at police.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s 21-member Cabinet is forced to resign to avoid being ousted by the Palestinian legislative council in a no-confidence vote protesting corruption and incompetence. Israeli officials view the resignations as an opportunity to bypass Arafat.

NEW YORK — A team of international diplomats outlines a "road map" for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plan, which calls for an end to Palestinian violence, Palestinian Authority reforms, Israeli troop withdrawals and a ban to Israeli settlement expansion, envisions a final agreement within three years.

PARIS — Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon is freed from prison after a French appeals court rules he is too old and sick to serve out his 10-year sentence. Papon, a former official in the collaborationist Vichy regime, was found guilty of helping deport 1,560 Jews to death camps during World War II.

SAN FRANCISCO — A controversial national survey by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research finds 6.7 million Jews out of 288 million Americans, far more than the most recent earlier estimate of 6.1 million Jews. The institute also counts 13.3 million Americans with a variety of Jewish family ties.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard President Lawrence Summers blasts pressure on universities to divest from companies that do business with Israel, sparking a debate about whether the anti-Israel movement on college campuses has become anti-Semitic.

BERLIN — The party of a politician whose campaign featured vicious attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and German Jewish community leader Michel Friedman loses badly in German elections.

NEW YORK — An uproar ensues after Amiri Baraka, the poet laureate of New Jersey, reads a poem suggesting that Israel knew in advance about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

October 2002

NEW YORK — Hundreds of college presidents condemn anti-Semitism on college campuses in a New York Times advertisement initiated by James Freedman, former president of Dartmouth College and chairman of the American Jewish Committee’s Domestic Policy Commission.

NEW YORK — A new group, the International Committee of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, is launched to seek redress for hundreds of thousands of Jews forced to flee Arab countries around the time of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Pro-Palestinian student groups convene at the University of Michigan to plan strategy against "apartheid Israel."

NEW YORK — Rabbi Baruch Lanner, former head of the Orthodox Union’s National Council of Synagogue Youth, is sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing two students between 1992 and 1996, when he was their principal at Hillel High School in Ocean Township, N.J.

BRUSSELS — The prime minister of Belgium apologizes for the complicity of local government officials in deporting tens of thousands of Jews to Nazi Germany.

JERUSALEM — Uzi Even, Israel’s first openly gay legislator, is sworn in to the Knesset from the Meretz Party.

NEW YORK — Initial results from the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01 find that the U.S. Jewish population has declined by 5 percent during the past 10 years, to 5.2 million.

BERLIN — A commission appointed by the German media giant Bertelsmann finds that the company used Jewish slave labor and made large profits by selling millions of anti-Semitic books during the Nazi era.

JERUSALEM — A team of Jordanian experts begins examining the retaining wall around the Temple Mount after it bulges dangerously and Israel and the Palestinian Authority trade accusations of blame.

NEW YORK — Investigative journalist Edwin Black finds that IBM technology was used at Auschwitz.

SEATTLE — Controversy flares over images in a book of photographs by actor Leonard Nimoy that show women in various stages of undress wearing Jewish ritual objects.

PRAGUE — The government of Slovakia agrees to distribute $20 million to the local Jewish community as compensation for Holocaust-era property losses.

WASHINGTON — Representatives of German insurance companies and the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims sign a landmark agreement that will trigger the release of $100 million to pay claims against German companies and $175 million to be used for humanitarian purposes.

JERUSALEM — Ignoring threats and entreaties from Israel, Lebanon inaugurates a pumping station to divert water from a Jordan River tributary.

BERLIN — Controversy flares in Germany over a new book by American scholar Daniel Jonah Goldhagen on the Catholic Church’s role in the Holocaust.

JERUSALEM — Thirteen people are killed in a bus bombing near Hadera in northern Israel.

OSLO — Imre Kertesz, a Hungarian Jew who survived Auschwitz, wins the Nobel Prize in literature.

WASHINGTON — Approximately 5,000 people attend a Christian rally of solidarity with Israel.

TEHRAN, Iran — Three out of eight Iranian Jews imprisoned on charges of spying for Israel are released.

WASHINGTON — Americans mourn the sudden death of Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Jewish two-term Democrat from Minnesota who is killed when his campaign plane crashes with his wife, daughter, three campaign staffers and two pilots aboard.

JERUSALEM — The Labor Party bolts Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s national unity government, ostensibly over a budget dispute.

November 2002

KIBBUTZ METZER, Israel — A mother and her two young children are killed when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrates a kibbutz involved in Israeli-Palestinian coexistence efforts.

BRUSSELS — The European Union official in charge of foreign affairs declines to investigate whether E.U. assistance to the Palestinian Authority is being used to fund terrorism, as Israeli officials claim.

JERUSALEM — Egyptian television begins broadcasting "Horseman Without a Horse," a 30-part series based on the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

NEW YORK — The United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization of North American Jewish federations, indefinitely postpones the release of the much-anticipated National Jewish Population Survey 2000-2001 because of lost data.

BERLIN — The German government agrees to subsidize the country’s Jewish community with nearly $3 million a year.

LOS ANGELES — Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin, in jail awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to bomb a southern California mosque, dies several days after an apparent suicide attempt left him in a coma.

MINSK, Belarus — Residents of the town of Slutsk, located some 60 miles from Minsk, discover a mass grave with the remains of up to 12,000 people killed during World War II.

PETACH TIKVA, Israel — Abba Eban, a longtime Israeli diplomat and Cabinet minister, dies at 87.

CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Rabbi Fred Neulander is found guilty of killing his wife, but he is spared the death penalty.

TEL AVIV — Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna is elected leader of Israel’s Labor Party and says he will immediately dismantle all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip if he becomes prime minister.

NEW YORK — Al-Qaida claims responsibility for a suicide attack that kills 14 — including three Israelis — at a Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa. Minutes after the blast, two surface-to-air missiles narrowly miss an Israeli charter plane taking off from Mombasa’s airport with 261 passengers and crew members aboard.

December 2002

CAPE TOWN — Children dressed as suicide bombers, aged 7 to 13, lead a pro-Palestinian march of about 300 demonstrators from a local mosque to the U.S. Consulate.

MONTREAL — Concordia University’s student government bans all campus activity by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life after fliers for Mahal, a volunteer program for the Israeli army, are found on a Hillel table.

NEW YORK — Long-time Hillel president Richard Joel is chosen as president of Yeshiva University.

OTTAWA — Canada bans Hezbollah as a terrorist group following a lawsuit filed by B’nai Brith Canada.

JERUSALEM — Israel bans a movie produced by an Israeli Arab on the April 2002 battle in the Jenin refugee camp, arguing that it falsely presents fictional events as truth in a manner that defames Israel.

OSLO — President Jimmy Carter accepts a 2002 Nobel Prize for peace efforts that began with the 1978 Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt, which he brokered.

TORONTO — A native leader in Saskatchewan praises Hitler and blasts Jews, prompting an outcry from Canadian Jewry and, eventually, an apology.

BERLIN — An American Jewish Committee poll finds that 52 percent of Germans believe Jews are exploiting the memory of the Holocaust for their own purposes.

MONTREAL — More than 100 people, including prominent journalists and academics, sign an advertisement in Canada’s leading newspaper charging that Jewish students are frightened to speak out on behalf of Israel because of anti-Semitism on Canadian college campuses.

JERUSALEM — For the second straight year, Israel bars Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat from attending Christmas Eve celebrations in Bethlehem.

ROME — The Vatican announces that it will open secret archives documenting its relations with Nazi Germany before World War II but not during the Holocaust itself.

January 2003

LONDON — Nicholas Winton, a British citizen who saved 669 Czechoslovak children from the Nazis on Kindertransport trains, is knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

PARIS — Rabbi Gabriel Farhi, who runs the Jewish Liberal Movement of France office in Paris, says he was stabbed twice in the stomach at a Paris synagogue. Authorities later suggest that Farhi himself staged the attacks.

ATHENS — Islamic extremist groups reportedly threaten to bomb the 2004 Olympic Games if security is assigned to a consortium that includes Israeli companies.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fl. — Col. Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, blasts off on the U.S. space shuttle Columbia with six other crew members.

JERUSALEM — In what is described as the deepest military excursion into Gaza City in two years, at least 12 Palestinians are killed and dozens wounded during a clash that erupts as Israeli soldiers target Palestinian weapons factories.

JERUSALEM — Ariel Sharon becomes the first Israeli prime minister since Menachem Begin in 1981 to win re- election.

February 2003

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL. — The space shuttle Columbia, carrying Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, explodes in the sky 15 minutes before its scheduled landing, killing all seven crew members.

TEHRAN, Iran — The last five Jews still held in an Iranian prison on charges of spying for Israel are released.

BRUSSELS — Belgium’s Supreme Court rules that Ariel Sharon cannot be tried for alleged war crimes as long as he is Israel’s prime minister but leaves open the possibility of a trial once Sharon steps down.

NEW YORK — Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind wins a design competition to rebuild the World Trade Center site.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government votes to expedite immigration of some 20,000 Falash Mura from Ethiopia.

March 2003

TORONTO — A report shows that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada increased by more than 60 percent in 2002, to their highest level in at least 20 years, according to B’nai Brith Canada.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat appoints his longtime No. 2 at the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas, as prime minister.

WASHINGTON — According to a senior Bush adviser, anti-Israel sentiment in Europe is making it harder for the United States to secure an international coalition for war against Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A U.S.-led coalition launches a war to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

BUENOS AIRES — Hundreds of Jews from the U.S., Israel, Argentina and other Latin American countries gather to celebrate the opening of the first Hillel house in Argentina.

JERUSALEM — Pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old student from Olympia, Wash., is killed when an Israeli army bulldozer runs her over as she tries to protect a house from being destroyed.

GIRONA, SPAIN — Some 1,000 Hebrew manuscripts from medieval Spain are discovered hidden inside other books, apparently abandoned by Jews fleeing in the 15th century.

WASHINGTON — The United States approves $1 billion in military aid for Israel and $9 billion in loan guarantees.

LOS ANGELES — "The Pianist," a searing film about Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman’s survival in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation, wins three Oscars, including best picture.

PARIS — French Jews are so disgusted with anti-Semitism that more than one-quarter of them are considering emigrating, according to a survey of the community.

April 2003

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Supreme Court rules that Women of the Wall, a group of women who read from the Torah and wear prayer shawls during their monthly service, cannot pray in an organized service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

BERLIN — Construction begins on a $22 million Holocaust memorial in Berlin, four years after the German Parliament approved its design.

NEW YORK — Cpl. Mark Evnin, 21, from Burlington, Vt., becomes the first known U.S. Jewish serviceman to be killed in the war in Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — As Saddam Hussein’s regime falls, Iraqi Muslims help repel looters from the cultural center of Baghdad’s Jewish community.

BRUSSELS — Belgian legislators revise a controversial law that allowed Belgian courts to try foreigners — including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon — for alleged crimes against humanity.

NEW YORK — Homes of intermarried American Jews will soon outnumber purely Jewish households if high intermarriage rates persist, according to a report by the Jewish Outreach Institute.

TEL AVIV — A British Muslim of Pakistani origin carries out a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv pub, killing three people. The bomber is the first non-Palestinian to attack Israelis during the intifada.

May 2003

JERUSALEM — Amram Mitzna quits as chairman of Israel’s Labor Party, blaming senior members of the party.

ENCINO, Calif. — An Iranian Jew is arrested in a series of arson attacks on houses of worship, including synagogues, in the Los Angeles area.

NEW YORK — In a retrial, Lemrick Nelson Jr. is found guilty of violating the civil rights of Yankel Rosenbaum during the 1991 Crown Heights riots but not of murdering him.

CASABLANCA, Morocco — A spate of suicide attacks in Morocco focus primarily on Jewish targets, but no Jews are among the 29 people killed.

WASHINGTON — White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer, one of the senior Jewish officials in the Bush White House, announces that he will resign in July to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrate against Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets on Israel and provoking harsh Israeli responses.

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sparks controversy among his right-wing supporters when he uses the word "occupation" to describe Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

OSWIECIM, Poland — In a groundbreaking visit, a joint delegation of Israeli Arabs and Jews visits the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

WASHINGTON — A private Jewish burial is held in California for congressional intern Chandra Levy, who disappeared from Washington in April 2001 and whose body was found in a Washington park in May 2002.

June 2003

OSWIECIM, Poland — President Bush and his wife, Laura, tour the Auschwitz death camp.

BERLIN — Holocaust survivors receive $15 million from German insurance firms in the first of 10 annual payouts.

AQABA, Jordan — President Bush meets with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at a summit to kick off the "road map" peace plan.

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon orders the evacuation of 17 West Bank settlement outposts, as called for under the "road map" peace plan.

CHICAGO — The Chicago Tribune causes an uproar after printing an editorial cartoon depicting President Bush laying down dollar bills in front of a seemingly anti-Semitic caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

JERUSALEM — Uri Lupoliansky becomes the first fervently Orthodox mayor elected in Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM — Seventeen people are killed and more than 150 are wounded in a suicide bus bombing near Jerusalem’s busy Mahane Yehuda market. In response, Israeli helicopters attack in the Gaza Strip, killing at least seven people.

VIENNA — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe hosts a two-day conference on anti- Semitism.

PARIS — Around 50,000 people rally for Israel in an event put together by leading Jewish organizations.

NEW YORK — Leon Uris, best selling author of "Exodus" and other books dealing with Jewish history, dies at age 78.

JERUSALEM — Israel cuts off ties with the British Broadcasting Company, alleging anti-Israel bias in the network’s coverage.

JERUSALEM — Palestinian terrorist groups announce a temporary cease-fire on attacks against Israel, but Israel fears the truce is a ruse to allow the groups time to rearm and regroup.

July 2003

WASHINGTON — Nazi collaborator Johann Leprich is arrested after being found hiding in his former Michigan home 16 years after a judge revoked his U.S. citizenship.

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration signs off on a $20 million payment to the Palestinian Authority for humanitarian projects, the first direct aid the United States has given the Palestinian leadership.

BERLIN — European Jewish leader and television host Michel Friedman admits to drug charges and resigns as vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany after police discover traces of cocaine in his home.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Fearing protests, an Australian film festival cancels a film by Holocaust-denier David Irving.

WASHINGTON — Pundits debate the implications of anti-Semitic remarks in a recently discovered diary of President Truman.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian mobs ransack the office of a leading pollster whose study showed that most Palestinian refugees do not want to return to homes they left 55 years ago in what is now Israel.

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s new president, Nestor Kirchner, attends the annual ceremony marking the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and later pledges to open secret police archives on the attack.

JERUSALEM — Single mother Vicky Knafo walks 120 miles, from Mitzpeh Ramon to Jerusalem, to protest social service cuts in the Israeli government’s austerity budget.

WASHINGTON — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas makes his first visit to the Bush White House, which has boycotted P.A. President Yasser Arafat.

NEW YORK — After heated lobbying by both sides, the Claims Conference votes to continue spending 20 percent of assets from the sale of unclaimed East German Jewish properties on Holocaust education, documentation and research.

NEW YORK — A New York city councilman who worked to improve black-Jewish ties is killed in a shooting spree at New York’s City Hall.

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of immigrants from North America arrive in Israel through funding from the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization.

JERUSALEM — Six of Iraq’s 34 remaining Jews arrive in Israel on aliyah facilitated by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

JERUSALEM — After a 34-year struggle, the Black Hebrews receive permanent residency status from the Israeli government.

JERUSALEM — Israel announces that it will re-establish full diplomatic ties with Austria, which have been strained since the Freedom Party of far-right politician Joerg Haider joined the Austrian government in 2000.

JERUSALEM — Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is opened to visits by Jews and Christians for the first time since the Palestinian intifada was launched in September 2000 following a visit by Ariel Sharon, then Likud leader, to the site.

JERUSALEM — The Knesset passes a controversial law preventing Palestinians who marry Israelis from receiving automatic citizenship.

August 2003

MOSCOW — Russian Jewish leader Mikhail Mirilashvili is sentenced to 12 years in jail for his role in the kidnapping of individuals who he believed had previously kidnapped his father.

BRUSSELS — The Belgian Senate drops "universal jurisdiction" from a controversial law that had allowed war crimes lawsuits with no connection to Belgium to be brought against world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

JERUSALEM — Ten young Jews from Cuba became the first contingent from the Caribbean country to participate in birthright israel.

SYDNEY, Australia — An eviction notice was served on an Australian yeshiva following a funding battle between the yeshiva’s head and his brother-in-law, diamond magnate Rabbi Joseph Gutnick.

NEW YORK — Leaders of Jewish organizations revamped their emergency plans after a massive blackout across the northeastern United States and Canada exposed the groups’ vulnerability.

BERLIN — The first 10 of a planned 2,700 concrete pillars, part of a memorial to the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, were erected near the Brandenburg Gate.

JERUSALEM — A suicide bomber blows up a bus in downtown Jerusalem, killing 21 people and throwing the future of the "road map" peace plan into doubt.

NEW YORK — Lemrick Nelson Jr., convicted of violating the late Yankel Rosenbaum’s civil rights during 1991 riots in Crown Heights, N.Y., is sentenced to 10 years in jail. He could be freed in less than one year because of time already served.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court is suspended for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state’s judicial building.

WASHINGTON — President Bush uses a recess appointment to bypass the opposition of Arab groups and some Democratic senators to the nomination of Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace, a federal think tank.

ATHENS — Vladimir Goussinsky, the media tycoon and former head of the Russian Jewish Congress who fled a Kremlin-backed campaign against him on allegations of fraud and embezzlement, is arrested in Greece and could face extradition to Russia.

LONDON — Britain arrests an Iranian diplomat accused of involvement in the 1994 bombing of Argentina’s main Jewish community center.

September 2003

JERUSALEM — The panel probing the killing of 12 Israeli Arabs by Israeli police in the October 2000 riots criticizes former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The Orr Commission report is also very critical of the police, including former commander Yehuda Wilk, for their relations with Israeli Arabs.

WASHINGTON — Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard appears in U.S. District Court, the first time he has been seen in public since his sentencing 16 years earlier. The attorneys for Pollard, serving a life sentence for spying for Israel, request a reduction of his sentence and ask to be able to see the secret documents that led to his sentencing.

JERUSALEM — Mahmoud Abbas resigns as prime minster of the Palestinian Authority after a power struggle with Yasser Arafat. Ahmed Karia, a moderate who is loyal to Arafat, is offered and accepts the job.

JERUSALEM — At least 15 Israelis are killed in twin suicide bombings in Israel. Seven soldiers are killed in an attack near an army base in central Israel and seven are murdered in a bombing at a Jerusalem caf . The attacks follow a failed Israeli airstrike on the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

NEW YORK — The UJC releases its long-waited National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01. The study shows the number of American Jews at 5.2 million, down 300,000 from a decade previous, with an intermarriage rate of 47 percent, up slightly from what was recalculated to be 43 percent one decade ago. An estimated 4.3 million Jews are said to belong to one or more Jewish groups or perform a range of Jewish rituals.

Recommended from JTA