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Newsdesk April 28, 2006

Conservative Jews Sue

The Israeli wing of Conservative Judaism, known as Masorti, filed a lawsuit against the Israeli government, claiming discrimination in praying at the Western Wall. The lawsuit filed Sunday follows an agreement between the movement and the government that assured its members freedom of worship at the Robinson’s Arch area at the southern end of the Western Wall, which is separate from the nearby traditional site of Jewish prayer.

During the past year, Conservative officials say, their followers have been told that in order to pray, they have to pay an entrance fee of $6.50 to the tourist center that runs the site. “The present restrictions constitute a serious infringement upon religious freedom,” the Masorti movement said in a statement. The decision to hold public prayer services at Robinson’s Arch followed attacks by some Orthodox Jews on Masorti worshippers trying to pray next to the main Western Wall site. They opposed the sight of mixed groups of men and women praying together and women reading from the Torah.

Olmert: No to Iran Nukes

Israel never will allow Iran to acquire the power to wipe out the Jewish state, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: “I promise we’ll do everything in our power to make sure that no one, including those who are saying it these days, will ever have the power to carry out these statements,” he said in a video-link address Tuesday to the Anti-Defamation League’s leadership conference in Washington.

Rice Named as Source

Two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee say Condoleezza Rice was their informant on sensitive national security matters.

The claim, laid out April 21 in a Virginia courtroom, intensified the drama surrounding a trial that could further roil a Washington political establishment already consumed by cases involving “official” and “unofficial” leaks.

The trial, originally scheduled to begin April 25, has now been set for August 7, even as the judge in the case continues to suggest that the case might not go to trial at all. The judge continued to express grave doubts about the government’s case, sympathizing with defense claims that it could impinge on free speech rights, and that it lacked precedent.

In last week’s pretrial hearing, lawyers for Steve Rosen, Aipac’s former foreign policy director, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst, persuaded federal Judge T.S. Ellis III to allow a subpoena for the secretary of state and for three other current and former Middle East policy officials.

Rosen and Weissman were indicted last August on charges that they relayed classified information to fellow Aipac staffers, journalists and diplomats at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

Israeli Stabbed in Ukraine

An Israeli yeshiva graduate who was helping to lead Passover Seders was attacked in the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk. Haim Gorbov was attacked April 21 not far from the city’s main synagogue, the Golden Rose. Several young men, who witnesses said looked like skinheads, allegedly hit Gorbov on his head with a bottle and stabbed him with a knife. Gorbov suffered head injuries, a knife injury to his chest and a broken nose. Doctors describe his condition as stable.

Police are investigating the incident. Rabbi Azriel Haikin, one of the chief rabbis of Ukraine, blamed the attack on the authorities’ lax attitude toward previous antisemitic incidents.

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