Newsdesk April 9, 2004

Poll: Jews Get More Blame

The belief that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus is on the rise among Americans, particularly young people and blacks, according to a new nationwide survey conducted after the release of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

The telephone survey conducted March 17-21 by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., found that the percentage of people under 30 who say Jews were responsible for killing Jesus more than tripled to 34% from 10% in 1997. The percentage of blacks who believe Jews were responsible doubled to 42% from 21%.

Overall, 26% of the 1,703 adults surveyed said Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death, up from 19% in a 1997 ABC News poll.

The Pew survey found a correlation between people seeing the movie (36%) and those expressing an intention to see it (29%) with the view that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death. By comparison, only 17% of those who have no plans to see the movie believe that Jews were responsible.

The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, cautioned that it was “a little too early to make any connection with ‘The Passion.’ I think we should wait six months or a year and check it then.”

ADL Slams Protesters

The Anti-Defamation League has written to an Israeli yeshiva’s principal to protest his students’ behavior in attacking two politicians identified with the Geneva Initiative.

The two, Yossi Beilin of the newly formed Yahad party and Amram Mitzna of Labor, were attacked by about 60 protesters in the Negev town of Mitzpe Ramon on March 28. The two were to have addressed a meeting on the Geneva document, an unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace effort they helped organize.

The protesters, identified as students at the town’s Hesder Yeshiva, an army-affiliated religious academy, surrounded the visitors’ car and attempted to break its windows. Later they entered the hall where the meeting was to have been held and scuffled with guards.

ADL’s Jerusalem Office, in a letter to the yeshiva’s dean, Rabbi David Avichail, complained that some protesters’ actions were “not only unlawful — they defy the very nature of the democracy that Israel stands for.”

Schumer Defends Kerry

New York’s senior senator, Democrat Charles Schumer, says he believes John Kerry and President Bush have “equally good records” on Israel. Schumer told reporters April 2 that he believed Kerry, the Massachusetts senator and presumptive Democratic nominee for president, would receive a large majority of the American Jewish vote, and that it would be easy to show that Kerry is as solid on Middle East issues as Bush. Schumer repeatedly compared the race to his defeat of incumbent Alfonse D’Amato for the Senate in 1998, when analysts believed D’Amato would receive Jewish support because of a pro-Israel voting record.

Judge Rules Against PLO

Palestinian leaders must pay more than $232 million for the killing of two West Bank Jewish settlers, a U.S. judge ruled. A federal magistrate in Rhode Island ruled this week that the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority provided safe haven to a Hamas gunman involved in the 1996 drive-by shooting of Yaron Ungar, a U.S. citizen, and his Israeli wife Efrat, the Associated Press reported. Ungar’s family filed a lawsuit under the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act. A federal judge ruled in January that Hamas must pay the family $116 million as well.

Grade To Head BBC

A Jewish media mogul was named chairman of the British Broadcasting Corp. Michael Grade, 61, a controversial figure in British media, will take the top non-executive position at the state broadcaster after he receives royal assent. Grade formerly was head of Britain’s Channel 4, where he was dubbed “pornographer-in-chief” for some of his late-night programming. Grade is vice president of the London-based JMI International Forum for Yiddish Culture.

Report: Arafat Paid Jews

Yasser Arafat reportedly has given money to the ultra-Orthodox, anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect. According to documents the Israeli army captured in the Palestinian Authority president’s Ramallah headquarters during Operation Defensive Shield two years ago, Arafat paid the group’s leader, Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, $55,000 just two months before the military campaign, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported. The Neturei Karta, who believe Jews should not have a state until the messiah arrives, are common fixtures at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and Hirsch has served as minister of Jewish affairs for the P.A. Rabbi Hirsch’s son called the report “evil slander” and denied any financial tie to Arafat, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported.

Le Pen Fined

A French court fined far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen about $12,000 for inciting racial hatred. In an interview with the Le Monde newspaper last year, Le Pen said that “the day will come when there won’t be just 5 million but 25 million Muslims and it’ll be them giving the orders. Then, it’ll be the French scraping the walls and walking the sidewalks while lowering their eyes.” The National Front leader has a long history of racist remarks against Jews and Muslims, including a description of Nazi gas chambers as a mere “detail” of World War II. In its judgment April 1, a Paris court said Le Pen’s comments incited rejection and hatred of Muslims. Le Monde was ordered to publish the judgment.

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Newsdesk April 9, 2004

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