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News Brief

May 25, 2004
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Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip refugee camp of Rafah. The troops left all areas of Rafah on Monday night. During the weeklong maneuver, called Operation Rainbow, the army killed 41 Palestinian terrorists and 11 civilians, and destroyed three tunnels used for weapons smuggling, Brig. Gen. Shmuel Zakai said. Palestinians say many of those Israel calls terrorists were civilians.

Israel’s membership in a U.N. regional grouping was extended. Israel’s membership in WEOG, the Western Europe and Others Group, was extended indefinitely last Friday. Israel joined a U.N. regional grouping for the first time in May 2000, for a four-year term.

Congressional leaders of the top U.S. human rights monitoring group introduced legislation backing the fight against anti-Semitism in Europe. The bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress last week by members of the U.S. Helsinki Commission encourages the “ongoing work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in combating anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance,” a statement said.

Ariel Sharon is expected to present his amended plan for Israeli disengagement from the Palestinians on Thursday. Israel Radio said Monday that the Israeli prime minister would submit the plan to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah as a courtesy before giving it to his Cabinet ministers for approval.

The Arab League’s re-commitment to a Saudi proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace is “very positive,” the U.S. State Department said. The league met last weekend in Tunis and reasserted its commitment to a 2002 Saudi initiative that offers peace for an Israeli return to pre-1967 Six-Day War borders.

The United States disagrees with Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi on a number of issues, including Arab-Israeli peace. Libya’s decision to disarm itself of nonconventional weapons does not mean “that his views or his behavior have changed to coincide with ours,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday, citing Arab-Israeli peace as an example.

The North American Jewish federation system passed its budget for fiscal year 2005. The $38.5 million budget — the same size as UJC’s 2004 budget — passed Sunday at the organization’s governance meeting in Chicago.

The Reform movement urged the U.S. Senate to reject budget cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House’s proposed budget for next year “would cut funding for vital domestic programs depended on by American families, including public housing, child care, and nutritional assistance for women, infants and children, while paving the way for $55.2 billion in tax cuts this year, and massive tax cuts in future years,” said Mark Pelavin, associate director of Reform’s Religious Action Center.

The national organization of Girl Scouts denied that a local troop’s participation in Sunday’s Salute to Israel parade in New York sparked controversy. The Jerusalem Post reported that the Girl Scouts of Westchester Putnam had been warned against marching because it might insult Arab scouts. But Ellen Christie, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., said that wasn’t true.

Ethiopian immigrants who were born during Operation Solomon became B’nai Mitzvah. Six 13- year-olds, born within the two days that the Israeli government airlifted nearly 15,000 Ethiopian refugees on May 24-25, 1991, celebrated in Jerusalem on Monday. Of the six, two actually were born on the plane.

Israeli soldiers raided U.N. offices in the West Bank city of Jenin. Israeli sources said soldiers conducting a raid in Jenin entered the building and detained an UNRWA official, Paul Wolstenholme, after he failed to identify himself.

Israeli soldiers shot an armed Palestinian in a West Bank refugee camp. Monday’s killing occurred in the Balata refugee camp.

Nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu sued an Israeli newspaper for reporting that he had advised Hamas bomb makers in prison. Vanunu, who went free last month after an 18-year jail term for treason, filed an $80,000 libel suit Monday against the Yediot Achronot newspaper at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

Israeli security forces foiled the bombing of a synagogue in a fervently Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. The Shin Bet said Monday that acting on an intelligence tipoff, its agents caught a Palestinian would-be suicide bomber earlier this month in the Mea She’arim.

The Palestinian Authority prime minister denied reports that Egypt sought to move Yasser Arafat to the Gaza Strip. Asked about reports that Egypt wanted Arafat to assume control in Gaza after any Israeli pullback, Ahmed Qurei said that moving the P.A. president to Gaza was not on the table.

The Mossad launched a Web site. Israel’s spy agency went online Monday at in an effort to boost recruitment. A precedent-setting newspaper ad circulated by the agency in 2000 called for applicants to become Mossad case officers.

Some 50 gravestones were vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in Kiev. Jewish leaders in the Ukrainian capital called the incident, which took place over the weekend, an anti-Semitic act. But a government spokesman said the stones fell apart because of old age.

Israeli women are among the most sexually aggressive in the world, according to Cosmopolitan magazine. In its June issue, Israeli women ranked in the top three among 50 countries for breaking traditional sex roles. Australian women were deemed the most assertive in bed.

A zoo appears to have been a casualty of Israel’s raid in a Gaza Strip refugee camp. Forty-five parrots were reported missing from the Brazil zoo in Rafah. Reports of the missing birds came after several animals reportedly were killed last Friday when Israeli soldiers overran the zoo.

The Anti-Defamation League criticized a West Bank rabbi for saying Israelis should not feel guilty for killing Palestinian civilians. In a letter to the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Dov Lior, the ADL said it is outraged at the rabbi’s comments. Lior said last week that “in the course of battle the IDF is allowed to hurt an ostensibly innocent civilian population.”

Nearly 600 recordings of Jewish music were donated to Florida Atlantic University’s music archive. The university’s Judaica Music Rescue Project, which was started in 2002 and maintains an archive of more than 6,000 Jewish musical recordings, received some 600 78-rpm recordings and several LP albums.

Three members of an extreme right-wing group who tried to disrupt a pro-Israel rally are in police custody in Budapest. The members of the Combat 88 group were among seven arrested Sunday; the other four were released. Police confiscated microphones, loudspeakers and banners with anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli slogans from people holding a rally against the pro-Israel rally.

Hungary’s Constitutional Court refused to approve a new version of the country’s hate-speech law. The law, which was approved by Parliament, is incompatible with the right to freedom of speech, the court ruled Monday. In the new version, the word “incite” was replaced by the word “instigate.”

A “security wall” erected on a U.S. college campus to protest Israeli policy was burned down. Police are investigating last week’s burning at the University of California at Irvine of the “wall,”which was made up of cardboard boxes, as a possible arson and hate crime.

A funeral was held in New York City for a slain diamond dealer who was a leader of the Bukharan Jewish community. Some 3,000 mourners attended Sunday’s funeral for Eduard Nektalov, killed May 20 in a daylight attack on a Manhattan street.

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