Newsdesk April 22, 2005

Hyde Blasts Israel

Rep. Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican, berated Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres for Israel’s treatment of Christians in the West Bank. Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, enumerated the effects of Israel’s security policies on the dwindling Palestinian Christian community when Peres met privately with the committee two weeks ago. Hyde, who is generally considered a friend of Israel, referred specifically to Israel’s West Bank security barrier. He said he appreciated the need for the barrier, but complained that in areas around Jerusalem it divides Palestinians from each other. He said the barrier and Israel’s settlement policy are “drastically undermining the mission of Christian institutions and the social fabric of their communities in the Holy Land.”

Peres was caught off guard by Hyde’s complaint, sources familiar with the meeting said, and replied that Palestinian Christians face graver threats from Muslims than they do from Israel. He acknowledged, however, that Christians “are in an uneasy situation.” The notes from the private meeting were leaked to columnist Robert Novak, a longstanding critic of Israel, in an extremely rare breach of the committee’s privacy policy.

The comments were confirmed to JTA by others at the meeting.

Hyde said Monday that he will not run for re-election in 2006. He joined Congress in 1974, and became chair of the House foreign affairs panel in 2001. He is best known for chairing the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton in 1998, and for his fervent opposition to abortion.

Bush Taps Koch for Post

President Bush named Ed Koch and 12 others to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

The council oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Koch, the former mayor of New York City and a Democrat who backed Bush in last year’s election, served as chairman of the U.S. delegation to a high-profile conference on antisemitism in Europe last year. William Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, also was named to the council. Bush also appointed several Jewish Republican activists to the board, including Michael Lebovitz, who led Jewish outreach for Bush’s re-election campaign, and Marilyn Fox, whose husband, Sam, is national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

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Newsdesk April 22, 2005

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