Newsdesk April 2, 2004

Published April 02, 2004, issue of April 02, 2004.
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Israel Keeps Basketball Tournament

The Final Four of the Euroleague will be held in Tel Aviv on April 29 as planned.

The basketball organization’s managerial committee, meeting in Barcelona, voted Tuesday against a proposal to move the gala event of the season from Tel Aviv due to security concerns.

The committee also dealt the Spanish team Valencia a forfeit, following its decision to skip its Euroleague game against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel last week. In addition, Valencia was slapped with a fine.

Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi, his deputy, David Federman, and the team’s chief executive, Ami Eshel, spent most of Tuesday trying to persuade their counterparts from other teams not to relocate the Final Four.

Maccabi officials claimed that the contract between the club and Euroleague states that the tournament can only be relocated in the advent of war and that Maccabi itself has the right to choose where the tournament would be held in such a case. Maccabi says that some 4,000 Israeli fans can be expected to make the trip to Europe if the tournament is relocated and that other countries would not be able to provide adequate security for them.

Meanwhile, some 200 fans marched Monday from downtown Tel Aviv to the Spanish embassy in protest of Valencia’s decision not to play in Israel and in support of the Final Four remaining in the city.

Congress Passes Koby Mandell Act

On Tuesday, Congress passed the Koby Mandell Act, a bill requiring the administration to create an office within the Justice Department that would investigate and work to prosecute terrorists who harmed American citizens overseas.

Jewish groups lobbied intensively for the bill during the past three years.

At age 13, Mandell became one of more than 100 American citizens killed since 1968 in terrorist attacks in Israel or in the Palestinian territories. His family demanded that the administration act vigorously to investigate the killing, offer a reward for catching the terrorists and bring them to justice.

The bill states that the Bush administration “has not devoted adequate efforts or resources to the apprehension of terrorists who have harmed American citizens overseas, particularly in cases involving terrorists operating from areas administered by the Palestinian Authority.” According to the bill, “to remedy these and related problems, an office should be established within the Department of Justice for the purpose of ensuring equally vigorous efforts to capture all terrorists who have harmed American citizens overseas and equal treatment for all American victims of overseas terrorism.”

The act was attached to the Justice Department Authorization Bill and is expected to be soon signed by the president.

Jewish Bombers Charged in Haifa

Two Israelis were charged in a bomb campaign against Arabs. On Tuesday, the Haifa District Court charged Eliran Golan and Alexander Rabinovich with attempted murder for 10 bombings that caused damage to Arab property in Haifa and wounded one woman. The men are alleged to have targeted an Israeli Arab lawmaker, Issam Mahoul, by placing explosives under his car. Police officials who originally said the two suspects could belong to a Jewish terror cell now say they probably acted alone.

Israeli Minister Slams Groups

Israeli Immigration Minister Tzipi Livni accused U.S. Jewish groups of not doing enough to encourage aliyah. “The community cannot make do with encouraging aliyah from other places. They must encourage it from within their own communities, because this is a strategic need of the State of Israel,” Livni told the newspaper Ma’ariv Tuesday. According to Ma’ariv’s Web site, the Immigration Ministry recently decided to focus on North America’s 5.6 million Jews, under a government directive to bring 1 million new immigrants to Israel.

Livni was quoted as accusing U.S. Jewish leaders of not wanting people to leave for Israel because it would weaken their own communities. The ministry spokesman was not available for comment.

Europeans Debate Antisemitism

The European Jewish Congress slammed European Union claims that most antisemitic attacks are committed by white males. The congress said a report by the E.U. Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia, published Wednesday in Strasbourg, clearly showed that the majority of attacks were committed by “young Muslims of North African origin.” An earlier version of the report was shelved last year, ostensibly because of faulty methodology, though the congress and many European Jewish leaders claimed the European Union had been embarrassed by the findings of Muslim antisemitism. The European Union issued a news release Wednesday claiming that “white far-right youths or traditional antisemites perpetrate most incidents of antisemitism in Europe.”

But the congress said the claim was “in direct contradiction with the EUMC report.”

“How can we effectively fight antisemitism when we refuse to identify the true perpetrators?” The secretary-general of the congress, Serge Cwajgenbaum, asked.

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