Mob Suspect Loses
Israel’s top court upheld the extradition of a suspected mobster to the United States. The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday an appeal by Ze’ev Rosenstein against his planned extradition for trial by a Florida District Court, saying that the move is appropriate as he is accused of violating American law. The Drug Enforcement Administration suspects Rosenstein of masterminding the smuggling of almost 2 million Ecstasy pills into the United States. Rosenstein denies wrongdoing, saying that four Israeli drugs dealers who sought to mitigate their penalties by framing him.
Court Rejects PLO Appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a $116 million judgment against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. The high court Monday chose not to block the judgment in favor of the family of an American citizen and his Israeli wife who were killed in 1996 in the West Bank. A federal court in Rhode Island had found the ruling Palestinian organizations responsible for the attack because they gave safe haven to Hamas.
Peres Backing Sharon
Shimon Peres dropped out of the Labor Party to back Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Peres, a longtime Labor Party leader, joined up with Sharon after returning from Spain on Wednesday. Peres is expected to become a minister if Sharon’s Kadima party forms a government, though he is not expected to be placed on the party’s slate of Knesset candidates for the March 28 election. Peres was recently defeated in a race for Labor Party chairman by Amir Peretz.
German Vows Support
Germany will stand by Israel, Angela Merkel declared Wednesday in her first speech as chancellor. Speaking to the German parliament, Merkel stressed her commitment to the Jewish state and said Iran, whose president recently called for Israel’s destruction, must cooperate with International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. In the first official contact between the new chancellor and a representative of the Israeli government, Merkel told Israeli Cabinet Minister Ehud Olmert that she will visit Israel in the near future. According to Yediot Aharonot, Merkel said she opposes Hamas participation in Palestinian Authority elections slated for January.
Rabbis: Boycott Zagreb
The Conference of European Rabbis urged members to boycott the Jewish community of Zagreb, Croatia. The boycott would stand until the dismissal of Zagreb’s former chief rabbi, Kotel Dadon, is resolved. The conference’s standing committee, meeting in Rome this week, issued a strong statement of support for Dadon. He served as Zagreb’s rabbi for seven years, but the community leadership refused to renew his contract this summer.
Dadon contested his dismissal and has remained in Zagreb with the support of a number of Zagreb Jewish community members. The conference called on other rabbis not to apply for the Zagreb post until the city’s Jewish communal leadership explains to a rabbinical court why it dismissed Dadon.
Conversion Petition Filed
Israel’s top court was asked to recognize Conservative and Reform conversions performed in the Jewish state. The Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center filed seven high court petitions Tuesday, demanding that the Orthodox monopoly on conversions in Israel be ended. Earlier this year, the Reform and Conservative movements scored a judicial coup when the high court ordered the state to recognize, for the purpose of immigration, non-Orthodox converts who had studied in Israel but completed the conversion procedure abroad. The Orthodox establishment opposes granting full recognition to Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel, saying that this would undermine Israel’s core identity.
Holocaust Grave Probed
Israel is helping German police identify the recently discovered remains of 34 Holocaust victims. The skeletons were uncovered in September in a suburb of Stuttgart that was formerly the site of the Echterdingen concentration camp. German authorities, who have a manifest of the camp’s inmates, turned to Israel for help in identifying the bodies. Yad Vashem said Sunday that it would search its Holocaust archive for information that could be of use.
“This is a very rare case — a mass grave with a relatively small number of bodies, accompanied by an orderly list of Jewish prisoners who were kept there at the time,” Nadia Cohen of Yad Vashem’s information department said. “All of this allows us to turn to our database in hope of identifying some of those buried there.”
Chabad Emissaries Meet
More than 2,000 of Chabad’s worldwide emissaries gathered in New York. The annual International Conference of Shluchim concluded Sunday evening with a gala dinner, keynoted by one of Russia’s chief rabbis, Berel Lazar, and addressed by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Chabad’s legion of emissaries, comprising some 4,000 families in 70 countries, is “the most powerful Jewish organization in the world,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, the conference’s director. The audience gave a standing ovation to Rabbi Yossi Turk, an emissary to Argentina who, along with his wife, Chana, recently adopted three Jewish children who were about to be placed in an Argentinian monastery. The Turks already have eight children of their own.