American Apathy?: Is the White House snubbing Israel? It kind of looks that way. In what is expected to be the largest gathering of world leaders in Israel (with the exception of the 1995 funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) in the Jewish state’s history, leaders of 30 nations are descending next week on Jerusalem for the opening of Yad Vashem’s new Holocaust History Museum. Expected are the presidents of nine nations, including Poland, Croatia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Switzerland and Slovakia, and the prime ministers, vice presidents or foreign ministers of France, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Romania, Britain, Germany, Russia, Norway, Spain and Portugal. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is using the Yad Vashem museum opening as the jumping-off point for a regional trip to promote peace. But the White House, officially, doesn’t know whom it is sending. “An announcement hasn’t been made,” said spokeswoman Maria Tamburri. Unofficially, we hear from a source in Jerusalem that America is sending Lynn Cheney and Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois — estimable folks, but not the top of the political and diplomatic heap. Yad Vashem officials were told to expect an American representative of at least cabinet rank and privately were surprised that does not appear to be forthcoming. The delegations will hear Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President MosheKatsav, Education Minister Limor Livnat and Annan speak March 15, while the head of each delegation will speak the next day. A state dinner will be had with Sharon on Tuesday. Who’d want to miss that? Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg said, “We are pleased by the large number of world leaders who are coming to Yad Vashem, will welcome them equally and will be honored by their presence.”
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Stem-cell Set-to: Speaking of Jerusalem, it’s being cited in Massachusetts as a beacon of embryonic stem-cell research. That’s a controversial subject in the Bay State, where Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, is threatening to veto a bill authorizing funds for such studies, which scientists think will lead to treatments for many diseases but religious conservatives feel constitute a destruction of human life. In an editorial rapping Romney, the Boston Herald pointed to the embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning going on at the “renowned Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.”
“It is almost beyond belief that Romney thinks this state — with some of the finest minds and research facilities in the world — should outlaw (and that’s really what we’re talking about here) a form of research that is being conducted throughout the civilized world,” opined the Herald, a conservative-leaning tabloid. Meanwhile, the women of Hadassah — the largest Jewish organization in America, which supports the hospital — are being praised for their efforts in pushing stem-cell legislation in Massachusetts this month. “These women came prepared with all types of materials and understood the issues here,” State Senator Harriette Chandler told the Boston Globe. The group has embarked on a 48-state stem-cell advocacy drive.