Newsdesk September 2, 2005

P.A. Assets Frozen

A Rhode Island court froze the Palestinian Authority’s American assets because of an unpaid court order regarding a terror attack. The Palestinian governing body was ordered last year to pay $116 million in damages related to the 1996 shooting of American citizen Yaron Ungar and his Israeli wife, but it has not done so. The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that the court temporarily froze assets of the P.A. and the Palestine Liberation Organization in April, and blocked the funds indefinitely in May. The organizations are still allowed to access money to pay for normal operations in the United States. Palestinian representatives were unavailable for comment, and State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Bush administration was aware of the case but was not getting involved.

Shul Bomber Sentenced

A man who firebombed an Oklahoma synagogue was sentenced to 39 years in jail. Earlier this year, Sean Gillespie, who was sentenced Tuesday, was found guilty of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Temple B’nai Israel in Oklahoma City in April 2004. The act caused only minor damage to the temple. Gillespie, a former member of the Aryan Nations, made the Nazi salute as the judge left court, The Associated Press reported.

Mayor Faces Hearing

The mayor of London will have a disciplinary hearing for comparing a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard. The Adjudication Panel for England, which will conduct the hearing, could bar Ken Livingstone from office for up to five years, The Associated Press reported. During an exchange earlier this year, the mayor asked Oliver Finegold of the London newspaper Evening Standard if he was a German war criminal, since the Daily Mail, the Standard’s sister paper, supported the Nazis in the 1930s. When Finegold told Livingstone he was Jewish, Livingstone said, “Well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard.”

Ex-Iraqi Jews To Meet

Iraqi Jewish leaders from around the world will demand compensation from the Iraqi government for lost assets. Meetings have been scheduled for September 18 and 19 in London to discuss the issue of compensation for Jews who fled Arab countries during and after the creation of the State of Israel and were forced to leave behind their assets, the Jerusalem Post reported. While the ex-Iraqi Jews don’t believe that the current Iraqi government will compensate them, they hope the demand at least can serve as a bargaining chip in future peace talks over compensation for Palestinian refugees who fled during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

Troops Lack Protection

Too few Israeli soldiers receive bulletproof vests, an internal report found. The State Comptroller’s Report on Israel’s security apparatus, issued Wednesday, took the army to task for equipping no more than 40% of its combat troops with body armor capable of stopping rifle bullets. Other soldiers get outdated flak jackets that provide inadequate protection, comptroller Eliezer Goldberg wrote. When Israeli-Palestinian fighting peaked in 2002 and 2003, many soldiers complained of a lack of body armor, prompting their families and even foreign Jewish donors to supply it. At the time, Goldberg called on the army to make bulletproof vests available to all relevant personnel. Commenting about the police in the 2004 report, Goldberg said that the Internal Affairs Division investigates too few complaints about officers. He also rapped the Shin Bet for what he described as a willingness on the part of the internal security service to consider recruits who admit to having used recreational drugs.

Family Home Vandalized

A swastika was burned into the lawn of a Jewish family in a city near Atlanta. Accompanying the swastika near Ginger Ragans’s house in Lawrenceville, Ga., was the word “fascist.” In addition, toilet paper was thrown on her trees and someone urinated and defecated on the family porch, The Associated Press reported. Ragans said she believes that the act is retaliation for her work as a community watchdog; she mentioned recently in a newsletter that teens were caught out after curfew.

Rabbi Dies of AIDS

Rabbi Cynthia Culpeper, believed to be the first pulpit rabbi to announce that she had AIDS, died Monday. Culpeper, 43, was diagnosed with AIDS in 1995, soon after being ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary. She served congregations in Alabama and became the first female rabbi to lead religious services in Poland, conducting High Holy Day services in 2000 at the liberal congregation known as Beit Warszawa. Culpeper was infected with the AIDS virus when she was stuck with a needle while working as a nurse.

Pollack Named in Probe

Kenneth Pollack, a prominent Middle East analyst, is one of two U.S. government officials referenced in the indictment of two former staffers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Pollack, who served on President Clinton’s National Security Council, confirmed to JTA on Monday that he has spoken with the FBI regarding a December 2000 lunch he had with Steve Rosen, former director of foreign policy issues at Aipac, and Keith Weissman, a former Aipac Iran analyst. Pollack said he has been told he is not a subject of the investigation, and added that he did not give the two men any classified information. A federal indictment said that Rosen spoke with an unnamed reporter after the lunch and that he gave classified information about policy options and internal government deliberations.

Beating Condemned

Ukraine’s president condemned the beatings of two yeshiva students in Kiev. “I was deeply affected by this incident,” Viktor Yuschenko said in a statement Tuesday. “We should spare no effort to ensure that such things never happen again.” One of the students beaten in Sunday’s attack remains in a coma; the other suffered injuries that were not as serious. The attack came after Ukrainian Jews complained of an increase in antisemitism in the former Soviet republic.

Israeli Quits Over Arms

The director general of Israel’s Defense Ministry resigned following an arms-export dispute with the United States. Amos Yaron, a retired general, told Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Tuesday that he would step down next month after six years in the post. According to security sources, the Pentagon blamed Yaron for a dispute over Israeli weapons sales to China that the United States considered a threat to its ally Taiwan. Mofaz and his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, signed a fence-mending accord earlier this month. Also expected to resign in connection with the dispute is Yehiel Horev, head of security for Israel’s Defense Ministry, who plays a leading role in international arms deals.

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Newsdesk September 2, 2005

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