Newsdesk January 17, 2003

Survey: Antisemitism Up

Americans under the age of 35 hold more antisemitic beliefs than the generation before them, according a new survey by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research.

The survey, conducted by Gary Tobin and Sid Groeneman, also found that nearly one-third of Americans were concerned that a Jewish president might not act in America’s best interests if they conflict with Israel’s. The survey also found that Republicans are less likely to view Jews as caring only about themselves, 12%, than Democrats or Independents, 20% each. The sample for the main survey was made up of 1,013 randomly selected adults from across the country.

Jew in Space

Lieutenant Colonel Ilan Ramon, who was set to be the first Israeli in orbit, was to bring on the space shuttle a memento of a Jewish boy killed in the Holocaust who dreamed about seeing the Earth from outer space.

Ramon, a 48-year-old veteran of the Israeli air force, was scheduled to lift off Thursday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., along with six other astronauts on a 16-day expedition in which Ramon will study dust particles and how they affect the weather. Prior launch dates were postponed.

Groups Urge INS Caution

Representatives of 12 local and national Jewish organizations sent a letter to President Bush urging the federal government to take steps to “ensure the fair implementation” of a controversial program for registering foreign male visitors from select countries, nearly all of which are predominantly Muslim.

The January 9 letter followed a mid-December uproar sparked by the detention of hundreds of Middle Eastern men who showed up at Immigration and Naturalization Service offices in California to register. Some ethnic advocacy, Muslim and civil liberties groups have responded by calling upon the government to end the program.

The letter was drafted by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and signed by representatives of the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, United Jewish Communities, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring and several local Jewish communal organizations.

NCJW Opposes Judge Pick

The National Council of Jewish Women is alone among major Jewish groups in joining a coalition-in-the-making of civil rights organizations opposing the re-nomination by President Bush of Judge Charles Pickering for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The NCJW’s Washington office director, Sammie Moshenberg, last week called on other Jewish organizations to express concern over Bush’s decision to again pick a judge whose nomination was first rejected last March by the Democratic majority of the outgoing Senate. “This is a judge who made extraordinary efforts to get a lenient sentence for a convicted cross-burner,” Moshenberg said, referring to a 1994 case in which Pickering sought a lenient sentence for a Mississippi man who was convicted of burning a cross on an interracial couple’s front lawn. She added that Pickering’s case should justify an exception to the traditional neutrality of Jewish organizations when it comes to judicial nominations.

Rights Rep. Meeting Slated

In an effort to mend the tense relations between the United Nations and the American Jewish community, the new U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, has accepted an invitation to meet with leading Jewish groups in New York next month. Arrangements are being made for the Brazilian diplomat to meet the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations or with Jewish groups separately.

De Mello, a career U.N. diplomat, was appointed last year by Secretary General Kofi Annan to replace Mary Robinson, who antagonized Israel and the United States with her outspoken criticism of their policies, respectively, in the territories and in the war against terrorism. De Mello, in turn, has vouched to adopt a low profile and the initial assessments of Jewish U.N. watchers have been generally positive. They say his first important test will come next month at the annual U.N. conference on human rights in Geneva.

Ohio GOP Leader Uses Slur

The new president of the Ohio State Senate, Republican Doug White, used a well-known anti-Jewish slur — “Jew them down” — prior to Election Day, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

White reportedly used the phrase during a fundraising meeting in the Cleveland area and initially defended its use as little more than harmless banter. “Hillbillies use certain ways, briar-hoppers use certain ways,” White explained, when asked about the remarks. “I’m a hillbilly,” he joked. The comments were not said “in any negative connotation: to be a sound bargainer, to be an effective bargainer — I wish I were a better bargainer.”

Ancient Inscription Found

An inscription attributed to Jehoash, the king of Judea who ruled in Jerusalem at the end of the ninth century B.C.E., has been authenticated by experts from the Israeli National Infrastructure Ministry’s Geological Survey of Israel following months of examination.

The 10-line fragment, which was apparently found on the Temple Mount, is written in the first person on a black stone tablet in ancient Phoenician script. The inscription’s description of Temple “house repairs” ordered by King Jehoash strongly resembles passages in the Second Book of Kings, chapter 12.

Gabriel Barkai, a leading Israeli archaeologist from Bar Ilan University’s Land of Israel Studies Department, said that if the inscription proves to be authentic, the finding is a “sensation” of the greatest import. It could be, he said, the most significant archaeological finding yet in Jerusalem and the land of Israel. It would be a first-of-its-kind piece of physical evidence describing events in a manner that adheres to the narrative in the Bible.

Frank Diary To Be Shown

For the first time ever, a collection of Anne Frank’s original writings will be displayed outside the Netherlands. The papers, which will go on view June 12 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, include pages from her famed diary, written when she was a teenager hiding from the Nazis during World War II, plus entries from other notebooks and a book in which she entered favorite quotes from other authors.

— FORWARD STAFF, JTA AND HA’ARETZ REPORTS

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Newsdesk January 17, 2003

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